Kocharian Republicans Agree On Stabilizing Efforts

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian and leaders of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia’said after a meeting on Wednesday that they agreed to cooperate in helping the country overcome a political turmoil that followed the recent assassinations of its prime minister and other officials.

Republican Party chairman Andranik Markarian said Kocharian reaffirmed commitment to his earlier programs which the Republicans regard as the only condition for their continued support of the president. Markarian reiterated the party’s opposition to fresh presidential elections–demanded by some of its powerful allies in government.

"The meeting’s participants agreed that developmen’s are proceeding in the right direction–that there are positive tendencies and that the situation can be improved only with concerted efforts," Kocharian’s press office said.

Markarian told RFE/RL that the Republican Party–which controls the parliament–places political stability in Armenia above anything else. "State interests today require the kind of confidence that existed before October 27," he said. In his words–stability is essential for Armenia to be able to continue with its participation in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

"We see no objective need to hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections," Markarian said.

Some leaders of the Yerkrapah Union of Karabakh war veterans–an influential organization close to the Republican Party–have called for Kocharian’s resignation since the murder of the previous prime minister and Yerkrapah’s founder–Vazgen Sargsyan. Among them were senior army commanders and Vahan Shirkhanian–one of the most influential members of the ruling cabinet. The new premier–Aram Sargsyan–has not joined the resignation calls despite his close rapport with Shirkhanian and Yerkrapah.

Markarian said Kocharian does not object to holding a referendum on constitutional amendmen’s by next May. Many Republicans fear that Kocharian will dissolve the National Assembly and call fresh elections after May 31–2000 when he will be allowed to do so by the current basic law. Restricting the president’s power to disband the legislature is now one the party’s top priorities. Kocharian told reporters on Tuesday he is ready to forgo some of his sweeping powers.

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