April 14, 2014 - 09:36 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - President Serzh Sargsyan announced on Sunday, April 13 his decision to appoint parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamyan as Armenia’s new prime minister. He acknowledged that he had serious misgivings about Abrahamyan’s candidacy, RFE/FL Armenian Service reported.
Sargsyan made the announcement at an extraordinary meeting of the governing body of his Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the third such encounter held since the unexpected resignation on April 3 of Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan.
Under the Armenian constitution, Abrahamyan has three weeks to form his cabinet and seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly controlled by the RPA.
Addressing senior members of the ruling party, Sargsyan spoke of widespread “skepticisms” about Abrahamyan’s candidacy. He said he has discussed it with the speaker “at length” in the last few days. Those misgivings, he explained, revolve around “relations with other political forces” and Abrahamyan’s “perceptions by various social strata.”
“We spoke about all issues frankly and openly, and I received clear assurances from Mr. Abrahamyan,” Sargsyan said in televised remarks publicized by his press office. “Mr. Abrahamyan promised to very quickly dispel possible concerns within our ranks with his active steps, clear political messages … and, most importantly, tangible results of his work.”
“I am confident that everyone will very soon realize that the Republic of Armenia has a really effective prime minister,” he added.
The president appeared to allude to Abrahamyan’s reputed ties to the Prosperous Armenia Party, the second largest parliamentary force increasingly challenging Sargsyan. The Prosperous Armenia-affiliated speaker is thought to have a close personal rapport with the party’s millionaire leader Gagik Tsarukyan not least because of the fact that his son is married to one of the tycoon’s daughters. Observers have suggested that Sargsyan hopes Abrahamyan’s appointment will put the brakes on the Prosperous Armenia’s growing cooperation with Armenia’s three main established opposition parties.
Tigran Sargsyan stepped down two days after the Prosperous Armenia and those parties agreed to stage three-day joint rallies later this month in support of their joint vote of no confidence in the government, which was due to be put forward in the parliament.
Abrahamyan’s appointment was widely expected to be announced on Thursday. But it was apparently postponed after Sargsyan’s talks held with Tsarukyan. The latter reportedly refused to bring his party back to the governing coalition or endorse constitutional reform planned by Sargsyan.
According to Prosperous Armenia spokesman Tigran Urikhanyan, Tsarukyan again met the president this weekend and reaffirmed his stance. “Namely, the Prosperous Armenia is not considering the issue of being part of a coalition government, that is not our agenda,” Zham.am quoted Urikhanyan as saying shortly after Sargsyan’s choice of the new prime minister was officially confirmed.
Urikhanyan also made clear that Tsarukyan’s party remains opposed to any constitutional changes. “There is no constitutional crisis in Armenia. There is an economic crisis in Armenia,” he said.
RPA spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov indicated that the Armenian president still hopes to cut a power-sharing deal with the Porsperous Armenia as well as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnktsutyun. Both political forces were part of Sarkgsyan’s government in the past.
Announcing Abrahamyan’s appointment to reporters, Sharmazanov said that the ruling party’s leadership did not discuss the composition of the new government. Sargsyan likewise did not mention possible coalition arrangements in his publicized remarks. He said only that the new Armenian premier will have “a high degree of freedom on staffing issues.”
The head of state further stressed that Abrahamyan’s cabinet will carry on with some of the controversial measures taken by the previous government and denounced by the Prosperous Armenia and the opposition. Those include an ongoing reform of the national pension system.
The Prosperous Armenia signaled its intention to continue cooperating with the opposition forces as it held with them an economic conference in the central town of Tsaghkadzor on Saturday. Tsarukyan addressed the forum shunned by the ruling RPA, speaking of a “severe economic crisis” in the country. He did not comment on the new government or other political issues in his speech.