Senior representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) praised on Tuesday an opposition leader who has criticized other opponents of President Serzh Sarkisian for planning rallies against his continued rule.
Edmon Marukian and his Bright Armenia party have refused to join the campaign launched by the Civil Contract party of Nikol Pashinian, a fellow member of the opposition Yelk alliance. In a newspaper article, Marukian said voters essentially allowed Sarkisian to become prime minister during last year’s parliamentary elections. Nothing can therefore stop the outgoing president from remaining in power, he wrote.
Pashinian insisted on the opposite. He said Armenians should take to the streets and thwart Sarkisian’s “third term.”
Gagik Melikian, a senior HHK parliamentarian, said Marukian “told the truth.” “I highly appreciate Edmon Marukian’s political and legal knowledge,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “What Edmon Marukian is saying is written in our constitution, electoral code and the National Assembly statutes.”
Another senior HHK figure, Eduard Sharmazanov, was careful not to openly take sides in the deepening dispute within the Yelk leadership. Still, he said: “To my knowledge, Bright Armenia has never spoken of fighting against concrete persons or disputing the April 2  election results in the streets. That is why I’m not surprised [by Marukian’s stance.] Pashinian’s behavior is more unexpected.”
“In democratic countries around the world, the real opposition is not those who cry loudly but those who consistently follow their ideological path,” added Sharmazanov.
Sarkisian stated in 2014 that he will “not aspire” to the post of prime minister if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic immediately after his second and final presidential term ends on April 2, 2018. He is now widely expected to be named premier by the HHK later this month.
HHK representatives deny that the outgoing president is about to break his pledge. They claim that he never explicitly promised to leave office in April 2018.