Prime Minister Karen Karapetian may not be eligible to stand as a candidate in Armenia’s forthcoming parliamentary elections, the ruling Republican Party (HHK) acknowledged on Wednesday.
A senior HHK figure made clear at the same time that Karapetian will retain his post if the HHK wins the elections scheduled for April 2.
The Armenian constitution stipulates that only those citizens who have permanently resided in the country for the past five years can run for the National Assembly. Karapetian worked in Russia from 2011 until President Serzh Sarkisian appointed him as prime minister in September 2016.
“We want to hold high-quality elections and will therefore not resort to violations,” Armen Ashotian, an HHK deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The issue of certifying the prime minister’s residency is a legal, not political, one.”
“Whether or not the prime minister will be included on the HHK’s electoral list [of candidates,] he will decide the form, essence and intensity of his participation [in the elections,]” he said. “Whether or not he will be on the list, I am sure that he will benefit the Republican Party’s efforts in the pre-election period as well.”
Ashotian stressed that under Armenian law, the prime minister does not have to be elected to the next parliament in order to hold on to his current post. In that regard, he reaffirmed Sarkisian’s recent statement to the effect that Karapetian will stay on as prime minister if the ruling party wins the April polls.
The president made that statement in his speech at an HHK congress held in late November. He did not say whether he plans to replace Karapetian after completing his second and final term in April 2018.
A former business executive, Karapetian as well as four new ministers handpicked by him joined the HHK just days before the party congress. Explaining the move, the premier said that Armenia’s recently reshuffled government needs a strong power base in order to follow through on sweeping economic reforms promised by him.
Karapetian indicated in early December that he would like to continue to head the cabinet after April 2018 if his government succeeds in improving the economic situation in Armenia.