In a valedictory Facebook message, Tigran Sarkisian said that he actually had tendered his resignation back in February -- his reasons for staying on were not specified -- and wished the best of luck to the government team. That team, led by President Serzh Sargsyan, might well need it, for their economic policies, including pension-reform, energy and public-transportation fees, have been putting an increasing number of Armenians on edge.
Under the Constitution, though, the cabinet must step down now that the prime minister has.
Few are buying that 54-year-old Sarkisian quit because he wants, as the line goes, to spend more time with his family. Most reports link Sarkisian’s departure after six years in office to the looming collapse of his controversial pet project on pension reform.
On April 2, the Constitutional Court scrapped a controversial, mandatory retirement savings policy, that might have been dubbed "Sarkisiancare." The ex-prime minister had pulled the US-advised reform through fire and water as hundreds fiercely protested against the law in Yerevan. Failing to defeat it in the legislature, Armenian opposition parties took the case to the Court, which deemed it unconstitutional. The government insists that the policy can be saved despite the court ruling. That was, in fact, one of the last points that Sarkisian made in his official capacity.
Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov claimed that Sarkisian has wanted to retire for quite a while now, but that President Sargsyan (also spelled Sarkisian) asked him to stick around for another month. Some news outlets suggested that the prime minister’s resignation was a face-saving move by the president.
Potential replacement candidates floated in the media include Defense Minister Serzh Oganian, Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian and even Yerevan’s police chief, Vladimir Gasparian.