Echoing a statement by a senior representative of the ruling Republican Party (HHK), Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said on Tuesday that Armenia’s amended constitution will not bar from retaining his post when it comes into force next year.
The constitutional amendments call, among other things, for Armenia’s switch to a parliamentary system of government immediately after President Serzh Sarkisian serves out his second and final term in April 2018.
One of the amendments requires all members of a new government to be formed at that time to have “permanently resided” in Armenia for the past four years. The Armenian Electoral Code specifies that they must have stayed in the country for at least 731 days in the four-year period.
Karapetian worked in Russia from 2011 until Sarkisian appointed him as prime minister in September 2016. Armenian commentators have suggested that he will therefore be not eligible to keep his job in April-August 2018.
Vahram Baghdasarian, who leads the HHK’s parliamentary faction, disagreed with that view, however, when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last week. He said he believes Karapetian can stay on as prime minister in 2018.
“I think that I will have met that [constitutional] requirement in 2018,” Karapetian told the Mediamax news agency in an interview published on Tuesday.
The four-year residency requirement already applies to individuals wishing to participate in Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections. This is the official reason why Karapetian, who recently became the HHK’s first deputy chairman, was not included on the ruling party’s list of election candidates.
Asked whether he has discussed his political future with Sarkisian, the premier replied: “We have so many things to discuss with the president that we haven’t spoken about that issue.”
Sarkisian has yet to clarify whether he plans to become prime minister after the end of his presidency.
Speaking to Mediamax, Karapetian effectively stood by his earlier statement that he would like to continue serving as prime minister after April 2018 if his government succeeds in improving the economic situation in Armenia.