President Serzh Sarkisian should stay at the helm of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) for many years to come, HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said on Thursday.
“The president … must remain the leader of our party for a long time,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“We are proud that Serzh Sarkisian is the leader of our party,” he said. “The Republican Party and Serzh Sarkisian are inseparable.”
Armenia’s current constitution bars the incumbent president from seeking a third five-year term in 2018. Sarkisian has not moved to remove this restriction with sweeping constitutional amendments drafted by his administration. The amendments envisage instead Armenia’s transition to the parliamentary system of government that would leave the head of state with only ceremonial powers.
Sarkisian has said that he will not become prime minister or parliament speaker if he succeeds in pushing through these changes resisted by his most radical political opponents. Nevertheless, some HHK lawmakers expressed hope this week that he will occupy a high-level state post after completing his second presidential term.
Sharmazanov declined to comment on these statements portrayed by opposition leaders as further proof that Sarkisian is keen to prolong his rule through the constitutional reform.
The HHK spokesman also dismissed opposition allegations that the president will backtrack on his pledges not to head the government or the parliament after 2018. “If anything, it’s much easier to reproduce our power with the existing constitution,” he claimed.