YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Nagorno-Karabakh lawmakers approved a major constitutional amendment late on Wednesday, stoking speculation about the impending resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan, the Karabakh president.
The amendment proposed by Harutyunyan last month will empower the Karabakh parliament to elect an interim president in case of his resignation. The president would serve for the rest of Harutyunyan’s five-year term in office which ends in 2025.
The proposed change was unanimously passed in the first reading. It could take effect before the end of this month.
Karabakh’s constitution has stipulated until now that Harutyunyan’s resignation would lead to the automatic dissolution of the parliament and the conduct of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections. Most local political actors agree that Azerbaijan, which has been blocking Karabakh’s land link with Armenia for the last three months, could thwart such polls.
A spokeswoman for Harutyunyan last month attributed the draft amendment to “geopolitical regional developments” and “external and internal political challenges” facing Karabakh. She insisted that the Karabakh leader has no plans to resign.
However, a lawmaker affiliated with Harutyunyan’s Free Fatherland party did not rule out such a possibility when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Thursday.
“I have no such information. Events are developing at lightning speed,” said Aramayis Aghabekyan.
Tigran Abrahamian, an Armenian opposition parliament and a former adviser to Harutyunyan’s predecessor Bako Sahakian, claimed that Harutyunyan could step down right after the change comes into force. He said he is concerned that Harutyunyan’s party could strike a deal with another political group to install a new president who “does not inspire public trust.”
Harutyunyan first fueled talk of his resignation in January when he signaled his desire to force snap elections in Karabakh despite the Azerbaijani blockade.