Election 2012: President starts campaign by strengthening his team

Election 2012: President starts campaign by strengthening his team

Photo: www.president.am

A kind of regrouping of forces is taking place in Armenia in the run-up to next spring’s parliamentary elections. A series of high-profile resignations/firings have begun, with an apparent aim at strengthening the team of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).

On Tuesday evening, the RPA Board decided to appoint Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan chief of the RPA election headquarters. In this view, Abrahamyan is to step down as chairman of the National Assembly. Earlier, Karen Karapetyan resigned as mayor of Yerevan and Chief of the Armenian Police Alik Sargsyan was dismissed from his post. RPA representatives say some other dismissals and resignations are also possible.

Aram Karapetyan
Lyudmila Sargsyan
Stepan Safaryan
In Armenia there is no tradition to explain dismissals of even the most high-ranking officials - they simply hear thanks for their work and get an appointment to a more acceptable position. No shortcomings or failures are usually mentioned. And this is exactly what happed this time around with the sacking of Alik Sargsyan. President Sargsyan stopped short of blaming the fired police chief Sargsyan (no relation) for failures in performing his duties, he simply said that the post needed a man “of another type.”

This led experts to speculate that in preparation for the elections Sargsyan is trying to “occupy” the main positions - Yerevan, which is home to half of the electorate, the police on which prevention of popular unrest will depend, and the sphere of territorial administration. It is no coincidence the next official tipped for dismissal is Vice-Premier Armen Gevorgyan who also serves as Minister of Territorial Administration.

Besides, politicians think that President Sargsyan dismisses and neutralizes mainly the people who once belonged to the team of his predecessor Robert Kocharyan.

Senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) Lyudmila Sargsyan (no relation to either) believes that for three years incumbent president Sargsyan is trying to get rid of the staff of former president Kocharyan and seems to see such an opportunity right now. “Also, anticipating the return of Kocharyan, he tries to get rid of Kocharyan loyalists in all key structures and ensure the outcome of future elections by means of new appointments,” said the oppositionist.

The leader of the opposition New Times party Aram Karapetyan thinks that all parties are mainly involved in games of different levels on the subject of possible electoral alliances and blocs. At the same time, Karapetyan added that negotiations are underway mainly regarding the involvement of political forces in the zone of influence of the first, second and incumbent presidents of Armenia - a sort of “presidential triangle”.

Head of the parliamentary faction of the opposition Heritage party Stepan Safaryan says that “all resignations and dismissals pursue a direct purpose of arranging the team, so to speak, of the current president, to bring people that would not only not cause problems within the team, but would also fulfill the task assigned to them during elections.”

Remarkably, at the March 1, 2011 rally ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan declared 15 demands of the opposition and one of the demands concerned dismissals of a number of officials. Two of them, the police chief and the mayor of Yerevan, are in fact out of jobs now. Eight other officials that figured in the Ter-Petrosyan list were Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, Vice-Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan, Central Bank Governor Artur Javadyan and others.