Ghoukassian to Assume Duties of Prime Minister

STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian said he will soon accept the resignation of the republic’s prime minister and will most probably assume his duties to end the serious government crisis. Ghoukassian told reporters in Stepanakert on Wednesday that Leonard Petrossian–the prime minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic–submitted his resignation several weeks ago–and that he decided to accept it after careful deliberations.

Ghoukassian claimed that Petrossian stepped down in view of growing differences with other members of the government–but that those differences were mainly over its economic policy–rather than personal. He denied that Petrossian quit his post under pressure from the influential Nagorno-Karabakh military. "It was his desire and I cannot keep him by force," Ghoukassian explained.

Reports in the Armenian media have said that Petrossian is at odds with other cabinet members led by Defense Minister Samvel Babayan. But it remains unclear which concrete differences led Petrossian to resign.

In a bid to downplay the crisis–Ghoukassian today complained that the press has "exaggerated" the crisis. But he said Petrossian’s resignation necessitates reforms in the Armenian-populated disputed region’s system of government. He said most government members want him to combine the presidential and prime ministerial jobs. "Although I have yet to make a final decision–that’s the most likely option," he said. Ghoukassian said he was considering introducing the post of deputy prime minister in the Karabakh government.

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