By Armen Zakarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said on Wednesday that his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the controversial winner of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, is ready to share ministerial posts with other parliamentary parties supporting President Robert Kocharian.
But he made it clear that the Republicans will retain the post of prime minister and will not give up control of the defense ministry and other security agencies.
“There will be changes in the government’s composition in the next 20 or 25 days. Those changes will result from negotiations with other parties,” Markarian told RFE/RL in an interview.
“We will try to include them in the government so that responsibility for its policies rests not only with one party but also those forces that are represented in the National Assembly and support the programs of the president of the republic and the Republican Party,” he said.
The remarks were primarily addressed to the Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) parties which official vote results put in third and fourth places respectively. The results dashed Dashnaktsutyun’s hopes for considerably increasing its presence in the Armenian government at the HHK’s expense.
The nationalist party is set to get just over a dozen seats in the 131-member National Assembly, much less than the Republicans. Orinats Yerkir, by contrast, will have at least 20 seats, putting it in a better position to negotiate power-sharing deals with the HHK.
The 51-year-old premier, who will almost certainly keep his job, stressed that both Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir must agree to share responsibility for the entire cabinet, not particular ministries given to them. He also said that the Dashnaks can not aspire to any of the so-called “power ministries.”
“Of all the power portfolios only the post of defense minister is a political one,” Markarian said. “We will definitely not cede it to anyone.”
The current Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, though not formally affiliated with the HHK, was high on the list of the party’s candidates and is thought to be opposed to a growth in Dashnaktsutyun’s influence.
Markarian argued that the posts of the head of the Police and National Security Service (the Soviet-era secret police) are “not an object of political discussions” because their holders are no longer considered members of the government after the recent reorganization of the two agencies. But he would not say which ministerial posts the HHK is ready to give to Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir.
Neither party has so far accepted the preliminary vote results announced by the Central Election Commission. A Dashnaktsutyun spokesman declared earlier this week that his party has “hard evidence” of electoral fraud and “substantial doubts” regarding their credibility.
Markarian urged both parties not to challenge the official figures for the sake of “political stability” in the country. He claimed that his party is also not fully satisfied with its performance as it expected to win even more seats.
The HHK will hold at least 40 parliament seats and enjoy the backing of more than 20 ostensibly independent deputies with close government ties.