By Emil Danielyan
President Serzh Sarkisian completed late Monday the replacement of the three members of his coalition cabinet representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) which was unexpectedly announced by the party last week.
Agriculture Minister David Lokian, Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Aghvan Vartanian were replaced by other members of Dashnaktsutyun just over one month after joining Armenia’s new government formed after the February 19 presidential election.
The Dashnaktsutyun leadership announced the surprise move following a one-week congress that discussed its political strategy for the next few years. It claimed that three ministers themselves decided to step down because of being elected to the party’s governing Bureau. “They figured that being a member of the Bureau is much more important than holding the post of minister,” the head of the body, Hrant Markarian, said on May 27.
All three men occupied the same ministerial posts in the administration of former President Robert Kocharian for the past several years. Only one of their replacements, the new Labor Minister Arsen Hambartsumian, has worked in the executive branch before. Hambartsumian, who will turn 35 later this month, oversaw the implementation of Western loan projects at the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry before the appointment.
The post of education minister was given to Spartak Seyranian, a well-known party figure who edited the Dashnaktsutyun newspaper “Yerkir” and was the Bureau spokesman until now. Seyranian, 45, had been a parliament deputy from 2006-2007.
The newly appointed Agriculture Minister Aramayis Grigorian was reelected to the National Assembly on the Dashnaktsutyun ticket in May 2007. Grigorian, 42, is better known as one of the owners of a major alcoholic drinks company.
(Photolur photo: Levon Mkrtchian, left, and Spartak Seyranian pictured at the Education Ministry on Tuesday.)