Two senior members of businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s political alliance said on Thursday that its parliamentary faction must not vote for Serzh Sarkisian’s appointment as Armenia’s new prime minister.
Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) confirmed late on Wednesday that it will nominate him for the country’s top executive post. The Armenian parliament will elect the prime minister on April 17.
The HHK controls 58 of the 105 seats in the National Assembly, putting it in a position to ensure that Sarkisian continues to govern Armenia after the end of his decade-long presidency. The ruling party can also count on the backing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, its junior coalition partner holding 7 parliament seats.
The Tsarukian Bloc, which claims to be in opposition to the government, has yet to announce whether its 31 parliament deputies will vote for or against Sarkisian.
One of the bloc’s leading parliamentarians, Sergey Bagratian, said: “Should an opposition faction vote for the government’s candidate or not? It’s a simple question. Naturally, if you are in opposition you will vote against the government’s candidate.”
Tsarukian’s bloc will “have a problem with being [seen as] opposition” should it decide to back Sarkisian’s candidacy, Bagratian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Another senior Tsarukian Bloc figure, Naira Zohrabian, agreed. “We are in opposition and a vote for [Sarkisian] would not be comprehensible in any way,” she said.
Zohrabian made clear that she and other deputies representing the bloc will not have a free vote on the new prime minister. “This is going to be a political vote and the Tsarukian Bloc must vote in a uniform way,” she said.
Tsarukian’s political allies regularly criticize government policies and even vote against government bills. But they have avoided personal attacks on Sarkisian, leading some commentators to question the tycoon’s opposition credentials.