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How to shift power leaving everyone on same posts: lesson from Sargsyan

Serzh Sargsyan. Photo: gazeta.ru

On March 2, the Armenian parliament is to elect a new president of the country. According to the amended constitution, it is not the president who will rule the country, but the prime minister, as the republic switches to the parliamentary form of governance.

Thus, in Armenia, they do not draw much attention to who will be next president. First, everything is already clear. Second, the parliamentary form of governance does not leave much space for changes through a power shift. Although, it is portrayed as if there will be a change of power, it turns out that the chess pieces remained untouched on the chessboard. At least in terms of functions they have been performing.

On the start of constitutional reforms in 2015, Serzh Sargsyan pledged not to pretend for prime minister’s post if Armenia becomes a parliamentary republic. However, as one can see, he broke his promise, as no other candidature for the prime minister’s post is being discussed now. Although, the ruling party keeps saying it will announce the name of its candidate closer to the election, which is in April, no doubts are left who will rule the country. The matter is not just about the fact that the Republicans consider no other options saying that Sargsyan is an irreplaceable figure, but about related events that show how eager he is to remain in power, right up to the fact that he refused to leave the presidential residence on Baghramyan Avenue after his term was over.

It is unclear why the president did not like the government building located in the central square of Yerevan. Maybe, these were bad reminiscences, as before being elected in 2008, Sargsyan was the prime minister. Nevertheless, the truth is that a new building is being prepared for a new president to let Sargsyan stay in the current presidential residence as the prime minister.

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Besides, Serzh Sargsyan will make himself feeling comfortable. The justice ministry has submitted a draft law according to which the future prime minister will have the residence, special vehicles, specially equipped plane and helicopter, and a personal doctor. This is all that the current president is enjoying now. So, the current president wants to continue ruling the country with all the privileges and attributes he got used to within last ten years.

Besides, Sargsyan will keep in power all his loyalists and no global changes is to be expected. The cabinet of ministers will change a bit, as the coalition is to be extended due to Gagik Tsarukyan’s party. EADaily's sources in the closest presidential circle say that Tsarukyan may become one of the three deputy prime ministers: if the Tsarukyan faction does not propose its own candidate for presidency and supports Armen Sargsyan from the Republican Party, the sources say that a consensus on the future coalition will be reached. After February 2015, Tsarukyan’s party, the Prosperous Armenia, beahed the coalition agreement with the Republican Party and became a kind of opposition that harshly criticizes the government, but not the president. Neither it calls for change of power.

Besides, it is probable that some oligarchs may come back to power who were securing “victory” of the Republican Party at elections under President Serzh Sargsyan. In particular, sources cite the name of the former head of the tax service Gagik Khachatryan who left the state service after Karen Karapetyan took the prime minister’s post, however, he remained close to the president. Probably, he would take the post of the third deputy prime minister, although up to date, the final decision is made only regarding Karen Karapetyan, who will become the first deputy prime minister.

By Lia Khojoyan

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31.05.2018

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