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By Hovannes Shoghikian
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian publicly confirmed on Friday his decision to form a far-reaching political alliance with the governing Republican Party (HHK), which is widely seen as being part of his strategy of becoming Armenia’s next president.

“I have already sent a membership application to the governing council of the Republican Party,” he told reporters.

Sarkisian’s membership in Armenia’s most influential party headed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is expected to be officially announced at an HHK congress next week. Newspaper reports have said Sarkisian will be elected as its deputy chairman or will co-head it along with Markarian.

Sarkisian made it clear that he is joining the HHK in order to contest parliamentary elections due in May 2007. He repeated that the outcome of the vote will determine whether he will participate in the presidential election of 2008. “Unless the Republicans and their allies have a serious presence in the parliament as a result of the parliamentary elections, it will make no sense to talk about further steps,” he said.

Sarkisian already ran for the National Assembly on the HHK ticket in the last election four years ago without being formally affiliated with it. His widely anticipated long-term alliance with the Republicans has already resulted in an influx of more senior government officials as well as wealthy businessmen into the party over the past month. A recently formed party reputedly sponsored by Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian is also expected to merge with the Republicans.

(Photolur photo)
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