The leadership of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will decide next April who will be the country’s prime minister after President Serzh Sarkisian completes his final term, parliament speaker Ara Babloyan claimed on Friday.
“Come April, we will jointly choose our prime minister,” Babloyan, who is also a member of the HHK’s governing board, told journalists.
Asked whether the HHK leadership is already discussing possible candidacies for the post, he said: “They will be discussed in April.”
Sarkisian will also serve out his second and final five-year presidential term in April 2018. The end of his presidency will complete Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary system of government. The next head of state will be elected by the Armenian parliament and have largely ceremonial powers.
Sarkisian has still not clarified whether he plans to become prime minister or stay in government in another capacity. “I have never thought about what my next area of activity will be … There is still a lot of time [left before April,]” he said in a televised interview aired in July.
“He who has the parliamentary majority will nominate the [next] prime minister,” he added vaguely, referring to the HHK.
Sarkisian said in March that he would like to “play a role, in some capacity, in ensuring the security of our people” after April 2018.
The president stated in 2014 that he will not “aspire” to the post of prime minister if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic. However, he pointedly declined to reaffirm that pledge on the eve of a disputed referendum on his sweeping constitutional changes held in December 2015.
Armenia’s current Prime Minister Karen Karapetian has repeatedly indicated his desire to retain his post next year. Some Armenian media outlets alleged earlier this year a rift between Karapetian and Sarkisian.
Sarkisian dismissed those claims as “untrue” in early June. He said afterwards that Karapetian’s government continues to enjoy his “full trust.”