By Armen Zakarian and Ruzanna Khachatrian
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and the Orinats Yerkir Party have struck a post-election deal that will give the latter the post of parliament speaker and three ministerial portfolios, sources close to them claimed on Monday.
Meanwhile, the third parliamentary party supporting President Robert Kocharian, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), was holding final discussions on whether to join the new governing coalition. One of its two main conditions for staying in government were said to be rejected by Kocharian.
The sources, who asked not to be identified, told RFE/RL that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and other HHK leaders agreed to help Orinats Yerkir leader Artur Baghdasarian become chairman of the National Assembly despite strong opposition from many Republicans. Baghdasarian’s candidacy has been a key stumbling block in the two-week power-sharing negotiations between the three main pro-Kocharian groups that will control the newly elected parliament.
The HHK declined to officially confirm the claims. “As far as I know, final agreements have not yet been reached,” a senior member of the party, Gagik Minasian, told RFE/RL. “But I’m confident that we will find a solution. Probably today or tomorrow.”
Minasian said Markarian is personally spearheading the ongoing “intensive talks” with Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun. He refused to comment on the possible distribution of top posts in the government and parliament.
The reported deal between Markarian and Baghdasarian increased pressure on Dashnaktsutyun to make a final decision on the Republicans’ conditions for its continued presence in Armenia’s leadership. The party’s governing body was discussing the issue throughout Monday, and no decision was announced as of late evening.
The same sources claimed that Kocharian has not accepted the Dashnaks’ demand to appoint one of their leaders as mayor of Yerevan and to form a powerful government agency tasked with combating rampant corruption. They said the presidential administration has offered the party to run three of the existing government ministries, two provinces and two standing committees of the parliament.
Dashnaktsutyun holds just over a dozen seats in the 131-member, lacking the power to block deals cut by the two other pro-presidential forces. Most local observers believe that its leadership, which has strongly backed Kocharian since 1998, is unlikely to walk out of the ruling establishment and join the opposition ranks.
The nationalist party, represented in Markarian’s cabinet, has accused the Republicans of achieving their victory in the May 25 elections by fraudulent means, but made it clear that it will continue to cooperate with them on certain conditions.