Armenia: Two Terms Is Enough, President Sargsyan Says
With possible changes afoot in the country's power structure, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has announced that he will not run for president again. “I would like to place on the record that I, Serzh Sargsyan, will never nominate my candidacy for President of Armenia,” he announced on April 10, RFE/RL's Armenian service reported.
Sargsyan does not intend to cut short his second term, expiring in 2018. But local political wonks sense fatigue in the erstwhile warrior.
Analyst Stepan Danyelian believes that Sargsyan, who already has experienced a run of anti-government protests, has moved from his usual strongman position to a sit-back-and-let-it-happen stance. “Serzh Sargsyan’s influence has weakened,” Danielian told the Hetq news site. “The fact that Sargsyan said he would appoint a new prime minister acceptable to all [the main political factions] proves that his position and that of the [ruling] Republican Party has weakened.”
Sargsyan's entourage indicated that the next cabinet chief, to be announced on April 14, may be selected from minority parties.
Danielian believes that the perceived symptoms of their leader’s mellowing will weaken the hold on power by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, which Sargsyan heads.
But others believe that Sargsyan is giving up some power to gain power. Those, who have confidence in Sargsyan’s tactician skills believe that by agreeing to form a coalition government, he may take the wind of out the sails of an opposition-proposed vote of no confidence scheduled in parliament for April 28.
At the same time, constitutional reform makes all of these explanations a crap shoot. Though still a work-in-progress, the reform proposes to have the president elected by parliament and limited to a one-time, seven-year tenure, according to a recently released plan. Ultimately, the question would have to go to a referendum, but the president's formal response is expected after July 1, RFE/RL reported.
For now, Sargsyan stated that he considers the current presidential form of government "more acceptable," though gave a nod to the need not "to ignore or underestimate the approaches of our country's political forces."
Nonetheless, if Armenia moves to a parliamentary system, Sargsyan will not seek the prime minister's job, either – been there, done that.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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