National Assembly Chair Hovik Abrahamyan claimed on Wednesday that he will be more influential as HHK campaign chief than parliament speaker in the months leading up to the parliamentary polls. “If we manage to win the parliamentary elections, it’s clear that Hovik Abrahamyan will not get a more low-level post, isn’t it?” he said.
Citing a “proposal” from Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Abrahamyan announced on Wednesday his decision to resign, the latest in a series of key personnel changes within Armenia’s political leadership.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Abrahamyan dismissed media speculation that he was forced to quit because he is regarded as a backer of former president Robert Kocharian’s possible bid to return to power.
News of the resignation emerged after Sargsyan chaired late on Tuesday yet another meeting of the governing body of his Republican Party (HHK). HHK spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov said Abrahamyan accepted the president’s offer to run the party’s campaign for the May 2012 parliamentary elections and decided to step down as speaker as a result.
Abrahamyan confirmed this. “The president proposed that I run the pre-election campaign of the Republican Party and I find that very important,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“With this step I also want to demonstrate to fellow party members and some politicians that I’m not clinging to my post,” he said.
“Since the president, the party and myself attach a great deal of importance to the pre-election campaign, I don’t want to combine these two jobs and cast a shadow on the post of National Assembly chairman,” added the speaker.
Abrahamyan already worked as the HHK’s and Sargsyan’s campaign manager in the last national elections while being deputy prime minister and minister for local government.
Abrahamyan announced his exit from the parliament leadership the day after the sacking of Alik Sargsyan, the chief of the Armenian police, and less than a week after the equally unexpected resignation of Yerevan Mayor Karen Karapetyan.
Armenian commentators have suggested that these changes are part of Sargsyan’s efforts to ward off a potential challenge to his rule from Kocharian. The latter gave in late September the strongest indication yet that he would like to return to active politics.
Both Karapetyan and Alik Sargsyan have denied any political motives behind their departures, however.
Abrahamyan likewise insisted that his resignation has “nothing to do” with Kocharian. “Serzh Sargsyan has the closest rapport with Kocharian … I have never meddled and don’t want to meddle in their relations,” he said.
“I am with the current team and will stick with it to the end,” he said.