Armenian Speaker Resigns Under Partisan Pressure

Former Armenian National Assembly Speaker Tigran Torosian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s embattled parliament speaker has announced his resignation from the top post and decision to quit the governing party from which he has been under pressure to go lately.

Invoking the regulations of the National Assembly, Tigran Torosian said at a press conference on Tuesday that he is stepping down “because of the existing insurmountable differences with the parliament majority on a number of issues concerning the country’s domestic political life.”

But before announcing his resignation from the parliament speaker’s post, Torosian unveiled his decision to quit the Republican Party of Armenia.

“The developmen’s and particularly the developmen’s of the recent period clearly show that these are insurmountable differences, and I have made the step that any reasonable person would do. I have submitted an application to the party about my decision to quit its ran’s,” Torosian told the media.

In a widely anticipated development the Republican Party was expected to reach agreement Tuesday evening on reshuffling its top leadership in parliament thus putting an end to months of speculations regarding Torosian’s future political career.

Still meeting on September 6, the executive body of the Republican Party, which constitutes a majority in the 131-seat parliament, concluded that it is “inexpedient” for Torosian to continue to occupy the post of parliament speaker that he has held since June 2006.

“For three or four months everything was being done by means of intrigues and conspiracies behind the scene. I would advise certain people to take their 30 pieces of silver and continue their way,” Torosian commented.

Earlier, he appeared defiant in the face of pressure from his party as he repeatedly dismissed ‘rumors’ about his imminent ouster and said he would not step down. Some media reports said Torosian refused to step down despite being offered senior government positions.

The Republican Party board also named another senior party figure, Hovik Abrahamian, as its preferred candidate to succeed Torosian.

Abrahamian was elected to parliament on August 24 in a by-election in a single-mandate constituency in southern Armenia that has long been widely regarded as part of the Abrahamian family’s personal fiefdom. That seat was obligingly vacated by Abrahamian’s brother Henrik.

Still on September 9, Republican Deputy Chairman Razmik Zohrabian warned that Torosian will face a vote of no confidence by fellow lawmakers unless he bows to the board’s decision and steps down.

The Republican Party decided on Tuesday to proceed with its intention to install Abrahamian as next speaker.

Hovik Abrahamian, 50, occupied various high-ranking posts in the administration of ex-president Robert Kocharian, including the post of deputy prime minister from 2007 to 2008. He also managed the Republican campaign during the parliamentary elections in May 2007 and Serzh Sarkisian’s campaign in the presidential polls in February 2008.
President Sarkisian appointed Abrahamian in April to be chief of his staff, but dismissed him from that post on September 6 after Abrahamian won a vacant seat in parliament.

The National Assembly is due to consider Tigran Torosian’s resignation during its next four-day session or at an extraordinary session. Torosian said he will quit the Republican faction but will not relinquish his parliament deputy’s mandate.

“I will be an independent parliament member,” he concluded.


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