The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has discussed several candidacies before nominating former President Serzh Sarkisian for prime minister, Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian claimed on Thursday.
“I have already said before that no big party can have only one candidate for prime minister,” Harutiunian told reporters. “Naturally, the HHK cannot be an exception and have a single prime ministerial candidate.”
He said the HHK leadership backed Sarkisian’s candidacy for Armenia’s top government post in view of “existing challenges” facing the country. “I can assure you that such discussions within the party have been quite open and even heated at times,” he said. “I will certainly not talk about details because they relate to internal party processes.”
Harutiunian refused to name any of the other candidates who he said were considered for the top job.
His remarks contradict what the chief HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, said after Wednesday’s meeting of the party’s executive body which unanimously endorsed Sarkisian’s appointment as Armenia’s next prime minister.
“We did not discuss any other names,” Sharmazanov said. “No other opinions were voiced or, I think, crossed anybody’s mind.”
Sarkisian became the HHK’s chairman one year before taking over as Armenia’s president in 2008. His critics believe that his nomination by the HHK is a mere formality which has not been even genuinely discussed by the party leadership. They say Sarkisian decided to hold on to power years before serving out his second presidential term on Monday.