The opposition Yelk alliance reiterated on Thursday that its parliament deputies will not vote for President Serzh Sarkisian’s pick for the next head of state despite agreeing to meet him.
Edmon Marukian, one of the bloc’s leaders, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the meeting with former Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian will take place on Friday. Marukian said Sarkissian was aware of Yelk’s stance when he proposed the meeting.
“We expect to hear from Mr. Sarkissian about his vision, about how he imagines his activities as president and how he sees Armenia’s course given the existing challenges,” said Marukian.
The Armenian parliament is due to elect a new and less powerful president of the republic one month before Serzh Sarkisian serves out his final presidential term on April 9. The outgoing president offered Armen Sarkissian (no relation) to become the ruling Republican Party’s presidential candidate late last month.
Sarkissian, who currently serves as Armenia’s ambassador to Britain, said he needs “some time” to decide whether to accept the offer. He said he will hold consultations with major political and civic groups before making the decision.
The Republican Party (HHK) spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, suggested on Thursday that the nominee will make the decision after his meetings with the parliamentary opposition, which also includes businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance.
“It will be difficult for him to make a final decision without meeting with the opposition,” claimed Sharmazanov. “So I think our presidential candidate is right to meet with representatives of Yelk and the Tsarukian Bloc.
Under the Armenian constitution, a presidential candidate has to be backed by a three-fourths and two-thirds majority of lawmakers in order to win in the first and second rounds of voting respectively. A simple majority of votes is enough to win the presidency in the third round. The HHK has such a majority.
Nevertheless, President Sarkisian has expressed hope that the former prime minister will win outright in the first round. In that case, the latter would need the backing of at least 79 members of the 105-seat parliament.
The HHK and its junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), control 65 parliament seats. They will therefore need the support of the Tsarukian Bloc which holds 31 seats.