President Serzh Sarkisian never promised that he will not become Armenia’s prime minister after serving out his final presidential term next month, according to a parliament deputy representing his Republican Party (HHK).
Samvel Farmanian said Sarkisian only stated in 2014 that he will “not aspire” to the post of prime minister if the country switches to a parliamentary system of government. That did not constitute a pledge to quit power on April 9, said Farmanian.
Sarkisian downplayed his 2014 statement as he gave last week the strongest indication yet that he will take over as prime minister later in April. He said his political opponents are taking that statement “out of context.”
“I still do not aspire to the post of prime minister,” the outgoing president claimed on March 19.He added, though, that he may well remain in power due to grave security challenges facing Armenia.
The remarks only fueled more opposition claims that Sarkisian is not keeping his word. Farmanian sought to disprove them, saying the president had never explicitly said that he will not serve as prime minister.
“For example, I can assure you that I myself had not aspired to be a National Assembly deputy but I became one as a result of circumstances and decisions stemming from the reality,” the pro-government lawmaker told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Farmanian also insisted that the ruling HHK has a legal and moral right to install its top leader as prime minister because it won Armenia’s last parliamentary elections held in April 2017. “We have a parliamentary majority and that majority has the constitutional prerogative to nominate a prime minister,” he said.
These assurances are unlikely to convince the Armenian opposition and other critics of the Sarkisian administration. Some opposition groups have announced plans to stage next month street protests against Sarkisian’s continued rule.