President Serzh Sarkisian will continue to lead the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) for “many years” to come, the chief HHK spokesman said on Monday.
Eduard Sharmazanov commented on Sarkisian’s latest refusal to rule out the possibility of becoming prime minister after serving out his second and final president term in April 2018. Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary system of government by that time.
Sarkisian stated in 2014 that he will not seek to stay in power in a different capacity if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic as a result of his controversial constitutional reform. But he pointedly declined to reaffirm that pledge on the eve of a constitutional referendum held late last year.
The president again did not exclude such a possibility in an interview with the Al-Jazeera television network aired last week. “Next year we are going to have parliamentary elections and in order for me to consider such an option our party should at least make a strong showing in the elections,” he said.
Sharmazanov echoed that ambiguous statement when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “If we win the elections then I think the president or our political team will answer many questions,” he said without elaborating.
When asked whether Sarkisian has indeed set his sights on the post of prime minister, the ruling party spokesman said: “I’ll just say one thing: Serzh Sarkisian will be the leader of the Republican Party team for many years and I’m proud of being a member of his team.”
Sharmazanov stressed in that regard that political parties will now play the key role in Armenia’s political life.
Sarkisian, who replaced his prime minister about two months ago, shed no light on his political future when he addressed a conference held by the HHK women’s wing in Yerevan over the weekend. He said instead that his administration has embarked on “serious reforms” that will result in “large-scale and systemic” changes in the country.
Most major opposition groups have strongly objected to the 2015 constitutional reform, saying that it is primarily aimed at enabling Sarkisian to extend his rule.