Three members of Armenia’s new parliament, who effectively revolted against businessman Gagik Tsarukian shortly after recent elections, have ceded their parliament seats to other members of his alliance.
The Tsarukian Bloc won 31 of the 105 seats in the new National Assembly elected on April 2. Shortly after the vote, it submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) letters of resignation supposedly signed by 23 of its mostly successful election candidates.
Twelve of those candidates told the CEC, however, that they did not sign the letters and would still like to become parliament deputies. The commission handed parliamentary mandates to eight of them.
Tsarukian said through a spokeswoman last month that that all of those men had formally pledged ahead of the elections not to take up parliament seats if they fail to get a particular number of votes in various constituencies across Armenia.
In the event, three of the deputies representing the Tsarukian Bloc -- Harutyun Gharagyozian, Khachik Manukian and Artyom Tsarukian (no relation) -- agreed to resign from the parliament. They formally ceased to be members of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The five other lawmakers refused to follow suit, while remaining affiliated with the second largest parliamentary force.
Tsarukian’s press secretary, Iveta Tonoyan, downplayed the three resignations, denying that there are disagreements within the bloc. “There were political agreements,” she told reporters. “This is a political process.”
Tonoyan also did not confirm reports that Tsarukian has fallen out with Ishkhan Zakarian, the man who managed the bloc’s election campaign and was also elected to the National Assembly. Asked to comment on rumors that Zakarian too will resign from the parliament, she said: “I have never heard about such an intention from Ishkhan Zakarian.”