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Armenian Parliament Speaker Resigns

Hovik Abrahamian
YEREVAN -- Armenian parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian has announced his resignation to work as a campaign manager for the ruling party in next year's elections, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK), said Abrahamian had accepted Sarkisian's offer to run the party's campaign for the May 2012 parliamentary elections.

Abrahamian told RFE/RL that he had accepted the job as HHK campaign manager and dismissed as baseless media speculation he was forced to quit because he was seen as a potential supporter of a possible comeback attempt by former President Robert Kocharian.

"The president proposed that I run the election campaign of the [HHK] and I find that very important," Abrahamian said.

"Since the president, the party, and I myself attach a great deal of importance to the election campaign; I don't want to try to combine these two jobs and [neglect my duties as]...National Assembly chairman."

However, Abrahamian worked as both the HHK's and Sarkisian's campaign manager in the last national elections without stepping down from his dual posts of deputy prime minister and minister for local government.

Abrahamian also claimed he would be more influential as HHK campaign chief than as parliament speaker in the months leading up to the parliamentary polls. "If we manage to win the parliamentary elections, it's clear that Hovik Abrahamian will not get a more low-level post, isn't it?" he said.

Abrahamian likewise insisted that his resignation had "nothing to do" with Kocharian. "Serzh Sarkisian has the closest rapport with Kocharian," he said. "I have never meddled and don't want to meddle in their relations."

Abrahamian added that he was "with the current team and will stick with it to the end."

Read more in Armenian here