YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The governor of Armenia’s southern Ararat province Rubik Abrahamian, widely seen as a stronghold of Hovik Abrahamyan, resigned on Tuesday one week after the former prime minister decided to leave the ruling Republican Party (HHK).
A senior aide to Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said Abrahamian gave no reasons in his letter of resignation submitted to the government. The official, Shushan Sardarian, said that the resignation will be accepted.
Abrahamian was appointed as Ararat governor in May 2014 shortly after Hovik Abrahamyan became Prime Minister. The latter was replaced by Karapetian in September last year.
The former prime minister has long had a strong political and economic influence in the regional capital Artashat and nearby villages. He was born and still lives in one of those villages close to Yerevan. The area is notorious for electoral fraud and violent attacks on opposition activists.
Abrahamyan’s son Argam was elected mayor of Artashat in 2015 at the age of 29. The town’s deputy mayor, Gagik Poghosian, on Tuesday denied rumors that Argam too will step down.
Abrahamyan, who has managed the HHK’s election campaigns since 2008, first revealed his exit from the party headed by President Serzh Sarkisian on January 24. He has still not given a clear reason the move which came just over two months before Armenia’s next parliamentary elections.
Sarkisian launched a thinly veiled attack on the ex-premier at a January 26 meeting of the HHK’s governing body. Abrahamian hit back at the president the following day, provoking a stern rebuke from a party spokesman.
According to a senior figure at the HHK secretariat in Yerevan, Ruben Tadevosian, Abrahamian formally notified the party of his decision to quit it earlier in the day. “I’ve received Hovik Abrahamian’s [resignation] application today … He gave no explanation for his motives,” said Tadevosian.
Echoing statements by other party figures, Tadevosian insisted that Abrahamian’s departure will not have a “substantial impact” on the HHK’s chances in the elections slated for April 2.