By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian has re-appointed all but one members of Armenia’s caretaker government, keeping vacant the crucial post of defense minister.
In accordance with the Armenian constitution, the ministers tendered their resignation immediately after the March 25 death of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian. Kocharian asked them to continue to perform their duties pending the formation of a new cabinet headed by Serzh Sarkisian.
The constitution gives Sarkisian, who was named prime minister on April 4, 20 days to form his cabinet and another 20 days to submit its program to the National Assembly which has to approve or reject it within five days. The outgoing legislature is unlikely to debate the matter before formally completing its four-year tenure on May 12, the date of Armenia’s next parliamentary elections. Sarkisian and all government minister must also step down right after the vote.
Chairing a weekly cabinet session on Thursday, the new premier congratulated the re-appointed ministers. A government statement quoted him as saying that it would make no sense to replace any of them just one month before the elections. Sarkisian also said his cabinet can not be deemed officially formed until Kocharian appoints a defense minister “within a time frame set by the law,” according to the statement.
Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian, the longtime chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, will thus remain Armenia’s acting defense minister at least until April 24.
(Photolur photo: Harutiunian, left, pictured during the government meeting.)