The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Karen Karapetian will play a more important role than President Serzh Sarkisian in its parliamentary election campaign.
Sarkisian has headed the HHK and led it to victories in the presidential and parliamentary elections held over the past decade. Armenians will elect a new parliament on April 2 one year before he completes his second and final term in office.
“Quite naturally, the HHK chairman will express his opinions and send his message to voters,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But the party’s first deputy chairman, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian, and the top 20, 25 or perhaps 30 candidates on our proportional list [of election candidates] will participate more actively in campaign events.”
Sharmazanov argued that Karapetian, who was appointed as prime minister in September, will retain his post if the HHK wins the upcoming elections. “It is only fair that the person aspiring to become prime minister in case of our success will be personally presenting to the public his vision for running the government in the coming years,” he said.
Karapetian will lead the ruling party’s campaign despite not being eligible to run for parliament. The Armenian constitution requires election candidates to have resided in the country for the past four years. Karapetian worked in Russia from 2011-2016.
The four-year residency clause will also apply to all members of the government, including the prime minister, after the end of Sarkisian’s presidency. Karapetian, who joined the HHK less than four months ago, said last week that he believes he will have met the requirement by that time.
The president has yet to publicly clarify whether he thinks the premier should keep his job after April 2018.