(Saturday, February 17)
“Zhamanak” speaks of a “large scale intra-governmental regrouping” unfolding in Armenia in a commentary on the official confirmation that Armen Sarkissian will become the next president of the republic. “This raises one very important question,” writes the paper. “If Serzh Sarkisian is not going to be replaced, will the other changes [in the state hierarchy] really matter? The composition of the government and the choice of [three] deputy prime ministers will be very important. But will that matter if Serzh Sarkisian is not replaced?” It says that while Sarkisian’s continued rule will preclude any “fundamental change” in the country some state officials could be able to push through certain reforms.
“Zhoghovurd” claims that the new constitutional provisions on the role and authority of the Armenian president will come into force one month after Armen Sarkissian will be chosen by the parliament as the new head of state in early March. The paper says that up until April popular vote will remain the only legal way of electing the president. “Armen Sarkissian will thus become yet another president whose legitimacy cane be called into question,” it says.
“The history of presidential elections in Armenia shows that if they decide in the upper echelons that in this particular situation the aspirant to the top post is more important than the constitution then they can easily circumvent requirements of the basic law without any qualms,” writes “Hraparak.” “Especially given that there is such a precedent. When Robert Kocharian was seeking the post of Armenia’s president in 1998 he had to have permanently resided in Armenia for the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the Central Election Commission registered Kocharian, who was brought in from Karabakh, [as a presidential candidate] without any fuss.” The paper says that Armen Sarkissian’s ascent to the presidency will follow a similar pattern.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reacts to the shocking suicide of an Armenian woman and her 9-year-old daughter, who jumped to their death from a bridge in Yerevan last week. Citing official statistics, the paper says that last year 562 people in Armenia tried to kill themselves and 157 of them died as a result. Nearly two-thirds of them were unemployed. “This is terrible statistics,” comments the paper. “It leaves us with no room four doubting that the socioeconomic plight [of people] is the main cause of suicides committed in Armenia.”