By Hrach Melkumian
President Robert Kocharian moved on Tuesday to quash speculation that he might dismiss his cabinet and call fresh parliamentary elections to ease mounting pressure exerted on him by the Armenian opposition.
“I can say for certain that I do not have such intentions,” Kocharian told reporters. “We are able to work effectively with this political team. We are going to work together at least until the next parliamentary elections, that is for three more years.”
Talk of a government change and a dissolution of the Armenian parliament emerged after the ongoing standoff between Kocharian and his political foes came to a head early last week, resulting in the violent break-up of an opposition rally in Yerevan and mass arrests of opposition activists.
Leaders of some pro-presidential groups not represented in the current legislature, among them former parliament speaker Khosrov Harutiunian and former Prime Minister Armen Darpinian, have since kept a high profile, accusing the three parties represented ruling coalition of “inactivity.” They say a pre-term poll represents the only realistic way out of the deadlock.
The coalition parties hold the majority of seats in the National Assembly. The most influential of them, the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, appears to take the possibility of its dissolution seriously. In a newspaper interview published on Tuesday, Markarian bluntly warned Kocharian that the Republicans will “join the opposition” if they are forced out of power.
Kocharian declined to comment on the threat and instead brushed aside the “rumors,” saying those who spread them want to create “distrust” between the president and his main political allies. He said the opposition onslaught has only strengthened his bonds with the three-party coalition. “You will see that the opposition actions serve as a serious incentive for the coalition to work in a closer and more coordinated manner,” he said.
The Republican concerns were apparently the main reason for a meeting later in the day between the Armenian president and the leaders of the coalition parties, including Markarian and parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian. A brief statement by the presidential press service said they discussed “issues related to the domestic political situation and the National Assembly’s activities.”
Kocharian appeared untroubled by the opposition pledge to continue to seek his resignation, scornfully comparing its leaders to naughty children who refuse food to upset their parents. “You just have to live the kid alone for an hour,” he said. “They will get hungry and start eating their meal.”