Armenian Speaker Warned Not to Resist Exit

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian will face a vote of no confidence by fellow lawmakers if he refuses to bow to government pressure and step down, a leading member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia’said on Tuesday.

The Republican Party’s decision-making Executive Body headed by President Serzh Sarkisian announced on Saturday its intention to replace Torosian by Hovik Abrahamian, the outgoing chief of the presidential administration. The body said it finds Torosian’s continued tenure as chairman of the National Assembly “not expedient,” but did not elaborate.

Razmik Zohrabian, a Republican deputy chairman, said on Tuesday that Sarkisian himself initiated the change of speaker and did not explain motives for his decision to other senior Republicans in detail. “The president of the republic carries many state secrets, and perhaps there are some things that were not said at the meeting of the Executive Body,” said Zohrabian. “That is the president’s right.”

Torosian’s imminent ouster was officially confirmed after months of speculation in the Armenian press. The speaker has repeatedly and angrily denied the resignation rumors, saying that he will not quit willingly. But he was less categorical on that score on Monday, telling journalists that he will announce his next steps after the September 16 meeting of the Republican Party’s larger governing Council.

The Council is widely expected to rubber-stamp the Executive Body’s decision. Zohrabian warned that Torosian will be voted out of office by the Republican-controlled parliament majority if he refuses to resign after that. “I think you know the National Assembly mechanism for doing that: the collection of [parliamentarians’] signatures,” he told reporters.

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