Kocharian Blames Schism Between Public and Leadership for Social Woes

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Prime Minister and acting President Robert Kocharian said Wednesday a split between the citizens of Armenia and the government is largely to blame for the country’s social and economic problems.

In his first television interview since the March 16 presidential elections–Kocharian said poverty caused by unemployment could be avoided if animosity between the people and state is eliminated.

Kocharian–still acting president while awaiting a run-off election with challenger Karen Demirchian Monday–assured viewers he would proceed with a sense of duty and responsibility–and would make every effort to better the welfare of the people.

Kocharian noted that in thinking of the future–people should take a more active part in the run-off election–and in general–should go out and exercise their right to vote–and right to freedom–to help build a better Armenia

Among other organizations announcing endorsemen’s for Kocharian was the Armenian Merchants Union–which issued a statement this week saying that it will support Robert Kocharian in the March 30 run-off election.

The Union described Kocharian as a figure who does not give vague or unreal promises–who has experience with cruel wars–and who knows the value of people.

"We are sure that after becoming president–Kocharian will unite the Armenian people in the name of building a sovereign–independent and economically powerful state," the statement reads. "He has proved this during his one year in the office of Prime Minister of Armenia."

The statement describes Demirchian’s promises as the May 1st communist mottoes. "Unfortunately–we have forgotten the many flaws of Demirchian’s administration. This was caused by our ex-president and his team during their eight-year inefficient rule," reads the statement.

"This time we have no right to make a mistake–and we have no time to rectify them. Let us be worthy of this historic mission," says the Union.

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