Ruling Party, ARF Reach ‘Tentative’ Agreement

ARF Parliamentary bloc secretary Aghvan Vartanian (far left), ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamyan (center) and President Serzh Sarkisian during a meeting in August to discuss Constitutional reforms
ARF Parliamentary bloc secretary Aghvan Vartanian (far left), ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamyan (center) and President Serzh Sarkisian during a meeting in August to discuss Constitutional reforms

ARF Parliamentary bloc secretary Aghvan Vartanian (far left), ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamyan (center) and President Serzh Sarkisian during a meeting in August to discuss Constitutional reforms

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian has reached a “tentative” power-sharing agreement with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia announced on Wednesday.

Republican Party of Armenia spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said the two sides have “mainly agreed” on the government posts that will be given to the ARF as a result of the coalition deal. But he declined to go specify them.

“By the end of this week you will hear about the final agreement and its details,” Sharmazanov told reporters after a meeting of the Republican Party of Armenia’s governing board chaired by Sarkisian.

The meeting came hours after fresh newspaper reports saying that the ARF will gain control of two or three ministerial portfolios and as many gubernatorial posts. According to the “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, the ARF members will be appointed as ministers of education, justice and local government.

Sharmazanov did not deny those reports, while refusing to name any names or posts. Education Minister Armen Ashotian, who is also a deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia, likewise did not deny his imminent replacement.

“I do not exclude that the Armenian press is close to a historic moment where it will make a partly correct forecast about my official activities,” Ashotian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) earlier in the day.

“I am always prepared to resign from positions to which I was appointed as a result of political processes,” he said.

The ARF, which holds 5 seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament, was already represented in Sarkisian’s government by three ministers until April 2009. They all stepped down in protest against Sarkisian’s Western-backed policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

The party grew increasingly critical of government policies in the following years, joining forces with other opposition groups to challenge the authorities. But it effectively stopped cooperating with them in late 2014 as the Armenian president pressed ahead with a controversial constitutional reform envisaging the country’s transformation into a parliamentary republic.

The ARF has strongly supported the reform. And like the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, it has dismissed opposition claims that the December 6 referendum on Sarkisian’s constitutional changes was rigged by the authorities.

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