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By Atom Markarian
The three pro-presidential parties making up Armenia’s new coalition government completed on Friday the division of senior leadership posts when they named four new regional governors.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Orinats Yerkir parties, junior partners in the cabinet of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, were each given two such posts. The appointments were announced at the first meeting of the reshuffled cabinet which is dominated by political allies of President Robert Kocharian and Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK).

Dashnaktsutyun members Gabriel Gyozalian and Romik Manukian will run the northwestern provinces of Aragatsotn and Shirak respectively. Both men previously served as deputy heads of the local administrations. Incidentally, Aragatsotn’s previous governor, Hrayr Karapetian, was also affiliated with the center-left nationalist party. The Dashnaktsutyun leadership has not cited any motives for his replacement. Karapetian was elected to the parliament from the party’s proportional representation list.

The eastern Gegharkunik and southern Vayots Dzor provinces will likewise be governed by Orinats Yerkir’s Stepan Barseghian and Samvel Sargsian. The latter previously headed Vayots Dzor’s tax inspectorate.

The gubernatorial appointments were part of a power-sharing agreement reached by the three parties following the May 25 parliamentary elections. It resulted on Wednesday in presidential decrees appointing six new ministers nominated by Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir.

The troika promptly formed the leadership of the National Assembly at its opening session the next days. Orinats Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian was overwhelmingly elected as its speaker. His two deputies, also elected on Thursday, represent the two other coalition parties.

The coalition’s first major task is to draw up a joint government program and submit it to the parliament by June 19. The widely expected absence of a vote of no confidence would amount to its automatic approval by deputies. The Armenian opposition holds only 26 seats in the 131-strong assembly and is therefore unable to seriously threaten the government there.

(Photolur photo: Thew newly appointed Minister for Urban Development Ara Aramian, seated, greets a fellow Orinats Yerkir member, Culture Minister Tamara Poghosian, at their first cabinet meeting.)
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