By Armen Dulian
President Robert Kocharian discussed mounting post-election tensions in Armenia with top military and security officials on Saturday, instructing them to thwart what he described as attempts by his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian to “seize power by illegal means.”
“I am determined to take all necessary measures to ensure law and order in the country,” Kocharian was quoted by his office as saying in separate meetings with the top army brass and the leaderships of the Armenian police and the National Security Service (NSS). The meetings were also attended by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, the official winner of Tuesday’s presidential election was also present at the meeting.
A statement by the presidential press service said the chief of army staff, Colonel-General Seyran Ohanian, and other top generals assured Kocharian and Sarkisian that they are ready to “take steps to maintain constitutional order in the country. The police and NSS chief were also reported to have given such assurances.
Kocharian, according to his office, told the army command that he “will not allow anyone to play a shadowy role” in the post-election developments in Armenia. “No structure can place itself beyond law and engage in illegal activities,” he said.
It was not clear if he referred to Deputy Defense Ministers Manvel Grigorian and Gurgen Melkonian who have reportedly pledged allegiance to Ter-Petrosian. Neither man could be seen in a photograph of the generals’ meeting with Kocharian and Sarkisian which was released by the presidential press service.
Most senior members of Grigorian’s influential Yerkrapah Union of Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans have already publicly voiced support for Ter-Petrosian whom they consider the rightful winner of the presidential election.
Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian insisted on Saturday that neither Grigorian, nor Melkonian broke ranks to back Sarkisian’s main election challenger. “Those reports are false, and all deputy ministers of defense are busy performing their duties,” he told reporters.