President Serzh Sarkisian should continue to govern Armenia after completing his final presidential term in April, a deputy chairman of his Republican Party (HHK) said over the weekend.
“I think that given the security, foreign policy and economic challenges [facing Armenia,] the best solution would be to continue the ongoing work in the existing internal and external environment under Serzh Sarkisian’s leadership,” Armen Ashotian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Ashotian said he is therefore ready to nominate Sarkisian’s candidacy for the post of prime minister at the end of the latter’s decade-long presidency.
Ashotian stressed at the same time that he is only expressing his personal opinion and that the president and the HHK have still not made a “final decision regarding April.” “There has also been no reaction yet from [foreign] diplomatic circles,” he added.
In an interview with the Armenia TV channel aired late on Thursday, Sarkisian again declined to clarify what he is planning to do after serving out his second five-year term. He said that “the time has not yet come” for him to announce whether he will become prime minister or take up another state post.
Armenia will also switch in April to a parliamentary system of government, meaning that most of the sweeping powers currently enjoyed by the head of state will be given to the country’s prime minister. The current Armenian premier, Karen Karapetian has repeatedly indicated his desire to retain his post.
Sarkisian said on Thursday that Karapetian is “very acceptable and useful to us as a prime minister and as a person.” But he said the HHK leadership will weigh up all factors before deciding “who can do a better job where.”
The televised remarks were construed by another senior HHK lawmaker, Khosrov Harutiunian, as a further indication that Sarkisian will stay on in power as prime minister. That is “the most likely and logical” scenario, he said.