By Emil Danielyan
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian named on Wednesday four new deputy ministers of local government, trade and social affairs representing the junior coalition partners of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The move appears to have completed the implementation of a power-sharing agreement reached last October by the HHK, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Orinats Yerkir Party that jointly control the majority of Armenian government ministries.
The three parties supporting President Robert Kocharian formed the ruling coalition after being declared the winners of the disputed May 25 parliamentary elections. Sources close to them told RFE/RL that no further deputy ministerial appointments are likely to be made by Markarian.
Orinats Yerkir, which is led by parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian and has the second largest faction in the National Assembly, was the main beneficiary of Markarian’s latest decree, with three of its senior members getting vice-ministerial jobs.
The most famous of them is Gagik Aslanian, who served as a deputy speaker in the previous Armenian parliament. Aslanian’s appointment has been expected by local observers ever since he decided last October to join Orinats Yerkir together with his People’s Democratic Party (ZhDK) -- one of the numerous small pro-Kocharian groups that failed to win any seats in the current legislature.
Aslanian had previously been affiliated with the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) led by Stepan Demirchian. He quit the HZhK in 2001 in protest against its growing opposition to Kocharian’s regime.
Aslanian, 49, as well as a member of Dashnaktsutyun, Bagrat Sargsian, will now work as deputy ministers for local government. The agency, which oversees the Yerevan municipality and Armenia’s ten regional administrations, is run by the HHK’s Hovik Abrahamian. The latter is regarded by many as the country’s de facto deputy prime minister.
The two other Orinats Yerkir appointees will work at the ministries of trade and social security that are controlled by Markarian’s Republicans and Dashnaktsutyun respectively.
The agreement to divide more senior government posts was initiated by Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun and reluctantly accepted by the Republicans who were already much better represented in the Armenian executive. It led to the creation of more vice-ministerial and vice-gubernatorial slots. Coalition leaders have played down the additional budgetary expenses resulting from that.