Leader Admits Tensions in Ruling Republican Party

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The governing Republican Party of Armenia is beset by internal disagreemen’s over who should lead its faction in parliament, a senior party figure admitted on Tuesday.

The Republican caucus, by far the largest in the National Assembly, has had no leader ever since its previous head, Karen Karapetian, was appointed as chief of President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration on September 30.

According to Armenian press reports, Sarkisian, who is the Republican Party’s chairman, would like to give the vacant position to the party’s young spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, but is facing opposition from Galust Sahakian, a veteran lawmaker and deputy chairman of the party. Sahakian has led the Republican faction in the past and reportedly wants to be reinstated in that position.

“I don’t think anything dangerous is happening,” said Razmik Zohrabian, another Republican vice-chairman. “It’s just that there are groups in the party that are not visible to outsiders. They sympathize with different people.”

“I guess time is needed to keep tensions between those groups from rising,” he said, explaining the delay in the selection of the faction leader. “The faction will definitely get a leader backed by the majority. I think that will happen soon.”

Speaking at a news conference, Zohrabian downplayed the disagreemen’s. “The Republican Party is a normal political party comprising rightists, leftists and centrists,” he said.

Zohrabian acknowledged that not all Republicans will agree with the president’s choice of the ruling party’s parliamentary leader. “The party has 140,000 members and it’s impossible to have all of them accept the president’s choice,” he said. “Maybe there is a small group not accepting it. But it’s not visible.”

Sarkisian has not commented on the issue in public.

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