YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The Armenian Revolutionary Federation confirmed on Thursday that it will receive three ministerial posts in Armenia’s government as part of a “long-term” power-sharing deal with President Serzh Sarkisian.
Armen Rustamian, an ARF leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Artsvik Minasian will become minister of economy while two other prominent party members, Davit Lokian and Levon Mkrtchian, will take over as ministers of local government and education respectively.
Rustamian said that the ARF will also name new governors of the western Aragatsotn and Shirak provinces. “You will hear about other details later on,” he said when asked about other government jobs to be covered by the upcoming deal.
Lokian and Mkrtchian already held cabinet positions before their party pulled out of Sarkisian’s governing coalition in 2009.
Paving the way for Lokian’s new appointment, the government moved on Thursday to split the Armenian Ministry for Local Government and Emergency Situations. “As a result of political cooperation, there has arisen a need to create the Ministry for Local Government and the Ministry of Emergency Situations,” Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian told a cabinet meeting.
The cabinet approved corresponding amendments to an Armenian law on the government’s structure which were presented by Hovannisian. The Armenian parliament will debate and almost certainly pass them later this week.
The two ministries were merged into a single agency for cost-cutting purposes 18 months ago.
In Rustamian’s words, the upcoming government appointments will be part of a broader political accord between the ARF and Sarkisian that will be finalized “in a matter of days.” “We are now working on the text of an agreement on political cooperation,” he said.
“That agreement will be open-ended. We have already said that we are talking about not just an ordinary coalition bloc but long-term cooperation,” he added.
Echoing statements made by ARF’s Minasian earlier this week, Rustamian said the agreement will spell out concrete political and economic reforms stemming from the recently enacted amendments to the Armenian constitution.
Asked whether Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) are really committed to significant policy changes, Rustamian said: “That’s what the agreement is all about.”
Political groups remaining in opposition to Sarkisian dismiss such statements. One of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), claims that the ARF is only anxious to retain its modest presence in the parliament by benefiting from fraud and government resources in next year’s parliamentary elections.