By Artak Khulian
STEPANAKERT (Azatutyun) — Arayik Harutyunyan, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, has sparked fresh speculation about his impending resignation after proposing a major constitutional amendment.
The draft amendment announced late on Monday, February 13, would empower the Karabakh parliament to elect an interim president in case of Harutyunyan’s resignation. The president would serve for the rest of his five-year term in office which ends in 2025.
Under the unrecognized republic’s existing constitution, 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 two months, could thwart such polls.
Harutyunyan’s spokeswoman, Lusine Avanesyan, said that the constitutional change was proposed in view of “geopolitical regional developments” and “external and internal political challenges” facing Karabakh. She told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the Karabakh leader has no plans to resign.
Karabakh and Armenian opposition figures as well as some Yerevan-based media outlets speculated, however, that Harutyunyan drafted the amendment under pressure from Armenia’s government. They said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wants to install a new Karabakh president who would be completely loyal to him.