A senior member of businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s political alliance on Thursday spoke out against opposition demonstrations that could follow President Serzh Sarkisian’s possible decision to stay in power after completing his final term next April.
Some Armenian opposition groups have already threatened to stage street protests if Sarkisian becomes prime minister and thus remains the country’s most powerful official.
Vartan Bostanjian, a senior lawmaker from the Tsarukian Bloc, made clear that he would not participate in such protests. He also suggested that the bloc as a whole, which finished second in Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, is also unlikely to join them.
“I’m speaking for myself, but within the Tsarukian Bloc I’ve never seen an inclination towards the street [protests,]” Bostanjian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Asked how he will react to Sarkisian’s possible decision to extend his rule, Bostanjian: “You know, I find it normal that no dangers must face Armenia.”
Another senior Tsarukian ally, deputy parliament speaker Mikael Melkumian, told News.am earlier this month he will not object if Sarkisian does decide to become prime minister. The Tsarukian Bloc’s spokesperson, Iveta Tonoyan, was more ambiguous on that score on Thursday, saying that Tsarukian’s political team has so far held no “discussions regarding the year 2018.”
The president himself has not yet clarified whether he plans to become prime minister, replace Prime Minister by someone else or keep him in office after April 2018.
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the dominant force in the bloc, was part of Sarkisian’s government from 2008-2012. It withdrew from the ruling coalition amid mounting tensions with the president that culminated in a bitter confrontation over two years ago. Tsarukian was forced to retire from politics at that time.
The tycoon announced his return to the political arena in January, less than three months before the parliamentary elections, fueling media speculation that his comeback is the result of a secret deal with Sarkisian. Tsarukian and his allies denied that. They claim to remain in opposition.