Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of “Prosperous Armenia” party (BHK) and a key member of Armenia’s ruling coalition, failed to endorse President Serzh Sargsyan’s reelection bid on Saturday, despite pressure from senior coalition partner, Sargsyan-led Republican Party (HHK).
Speaking at the 5th BHK congress, with President Serzh Sargsyan seated in the front row, Gagik Tsarukyan said his party is “faithful to the spirit and provisions of coalition agreement,” amid growing speculations that BHK is set to abandon the ruling coalition.
Tsarukyan did not name a candidate his party is ready to endorse in upcoming elections in 2013.
He said his party stands for “fair elections,” a phrase that sounded plain funny from his lips, given the history of vote rigging and bribing voters, that gave BHK enough seats to form second largest faction in Armenia’s parliament and Gagik Tsarukyan, the country’s richest tycoon, a say in ruling coalition, ministerial portfolios and substantial levers in politics and economy to further build up his business empire.
Tsarukyan refused to meet the press after the congress.
Kocharian’s shadow over coalition
The Armenian press has for months contended that Tsarukian is under pressure to pledge support for Sarkisian’s reelection or leave the government, in which his party is represented by four ministers.
The pressure on the BHK seemingly rose after bitter recriminations traded by top representatives of the two governing parties over Tsarukian’s claim that former President Robert Kocharian could have taken over the HHK in the past if he had wanted to.
Highlighting his warm ties with Tsarukian, Kocharian backed the tycoon’s claim and launched a broadside against the HHK last week. The move stoked lingering speculation that the ex-president has an uneasy rapport with Sarkisian, his longtime associate, and would like to return to government. Some pundits say this is a key reason why Tsarukian is in no rush help the current president win a second term in office.
BHK representatives have repeatedly stated that their party will decide whom to support only after the 2012 parliamentary elections. They have also said the BHK will field its own presidential candidate if it wins majority in Parliament.