The parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will not vote to elect opposition leader Nikol Pashinian the country’s new prime minister next week, a senior HHK lawmaker said on Friday.
Gevorg Kostanian, the chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, insisted that Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation on Monday did not mark “regime change” in Armenia.
“In parliamentary republics regime change presupposes a change of the parliamentary majority,” he told reporters. “A change of the prime minister or other officials alone can never been deemed regime change.”
Asked whether HHK lawmakers will vote for Pashinian when the parliament picks the new premier on May 1, Kostanian said: “I rule that out because I can’t imagine such a possibility.” They will back “a candidate who will be chosen by the HHK faction,” he said.
Another senior HHK lawmaker, Vahram Baghdasarian, reaffirmed his party’s readiness to discuss “any issue” with Pashinian. “But we are not going to succumb to ultimatums and coercion,” he stressed.
The remarks came as Pashinian continued to press the HHK majority in the National Assembly and other parliamentary factions to install him as interim prime minister and call fresh elections. Pashinian said earlier on Friday that hundreds of thousands of people should take to the streets of Yerevan and blockade the parliament building during the May 1 session.
“We are following the constitutional path, and if this is his constitutional path, then let him do that,” commented Baghdasarian.
The HHK controls 58 seats in the 105-member parliament, compared with 9 seats held by the opposition Yelk alliance.
Yelk has officially nominated Pashinian for prime minister. None of the other parliamentary parties has officially endorsed the opposition leader. Those are the Tsarukian Bloc and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
Dashnaktsutyun, which pulled out of the government following Sarkisian’s resignation, on Friday urged the parliamentary forces to “agree on a joint candidate enjoying the trust of the people” by May 1. They would also determine by consensus the composition of the new government and its policy program, it said. The party did not say who that candidate might be.