Leaders of the opposition Yelk alliance denounced at the weekend President Serzh Sarkisian’s perceived plans to extend his decade-long rule by becoming prime minister after Armenia is transformed into a parliamentary republic in April.
They declined to specify just how they will be trying to prevent such a scenario which looks increasingly likely.
“For the Yelk alliance, Serzh Sarkisian’s third term is unacceptable,” said Edmon Marukian, who heads one of the three parties making up the bloc. “As regards other, technical, tactical and strategic issues, we will discuss them.”
Another Yelk leader, Nikol Pashinian, said the bloc’s key objective now is to prevent Sarkisian from holding on to power after his second and final presidential term expires on April 9. “This is one of the most important issues on which we need to adopt a common position,” he said. “No one within the alliance disputes that.”
Pashinian already warned on February 9 that the outgoing president “could drastically escalate the political situation in Armenia” if he takes over as prime minister later in April. But he did not say whether Yelk will stage street protests in that case.
Aram Sarkisian (no relation), whose Hanrapetutyun party is also part of Yelk, admitted on Friday that the bloc’s leaders disagree on how to fight against Serzh Sarkisian’s continued rule. He declined to refute media reports that Marukian believes the Armenian opposition missed its chance to oust the president during the April 2017 parliamentary elections won by the ruling Republican Party (HHK).
Both Marukian and Pashinian denied on Saturday any differences within the Yelk leadership, however.
Although Serzh Sarkisian has still not publicly clarified his political plans there are growing indications that he is planning to become prime minister. A deputy chairman of the HHK hinted a week ago that this scenario is a forgone conclusion.