By Hrach Melkumian
President Robert Kocharian is satisfied with the course and outcome of last month’s elections that enabled him to retain control over Armenia’s parliament, his spokesman said on Monday.
The official, Ashot Kocharian, told RFE/RL that the Armenian leader is holding consultations with loyal political parties on the new composition of the government and the parliament’s leadership.
“The president considers the final results of the elections to be normal,” he said. “Negotiations are underway with various political forces and it is possible to form a majority in the National Assembly that will work long and effectively.”
The spokesman declined to reveal details of the talks that apparently involve the Republican Party (HHK), the winner of the contested vote, and two other major pro-Kocharian parties: Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
The three parties are reportedly engaged in political horse trading over the distribution of senior posts in the government and parliament. Some government sources say they have already reached a tentative deal that would make Orinats Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian the new parliament speaker and give one of the two posts of vice-speaker to the Dashnaks. The presidential press secretary did not deny or confirm the claims.
Kocharian’s main political foe, the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc led by Stepan Demirchian, will control only 17 seats in the 131-member National Assembly. The bloc, which refuses to recognize Kocharian’s recent reelection, had promised supporters to launch impeachment proceedings against the president. But as things stand now, it will not be able to even force a parliament debate the issue.
Ashot Kocharian also said that the Armenian president regards as “positive” the results of the referendum on his package of constitutional amendments, even though they failed to win sufficient public support. He argued that more Armenians voted for than against the proposed changes.
“In many other countries that constitution would pass,” he said. “But in our country, the requirements for its passage are stricter.”
According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), the draft amendments were backed by more than 559,000 of some 1.22 million voters that took part in the referendum. Over 552,000 others rejected them, with the remaining votes were deemed invalid.
Under Armenian law, the amendments needed the backing of at least 780,000 voters.