PM Sargsyan Parties Meet Reshuffle Imminent

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Several meetings with leaders and representatives of parliament factions were held in Sardarabad and in the Armenian government building by the initiative of Armenia’s prime minister Aram Sargsyan–regarding the heavy social-economic situation–unhealthy moral-psychological atmosphere and unfriendly social conditions in the country.

Parliament representatives emphasized the importance of joint efforts to overcome current heavy situation–and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and social concord.

As consultations between Sargsyan and the main political groups continued–a major government reshuffle appeared inevitable.

"There is no decision yet. Consultations are still going on," Andranik Markarian–one of the leaders of the pro-government Unity bloc–told RFE/RL. He added that the new cabinet will be installed "in the coming days." The current ministers of defense–interior and national security are expected to remain in their posts.

"There is an agreement that the issue of the security ministers will rest with the prime minister. These are not partisan posts," Markarian said. Sargsyan and leaders of virtually all parties represented in the Armenian parliament agreed on Sunday to reduce the number of ministries from 24 to 16. On Saturday–they issued a statement pledging joint actions to tackle the continuing socio-economic crisis in Armenia. "The prime minister will confirm the number of ministries–and submit his decision to the president," said Tigran Torosian–a deputy speaker of parliament and a senior Unity member.

Informed sources told RFE/RL that the two Unity components–the Yerkrapah and Armenian Democratic Party –will be better represented in the government which was dominated by technocrat ministers. Premier Sargsyan is a member of the Yerkrapah–founded by his late brother and predecessor Vazgen Sargsyan. The Armenian Communist Party is in line to get ministerial portfolios for the first time since it was removed from power in 1990. No replacemen’s appeared likely in the ministries of trade and industry–industrial infrastructures and state revenues that are currently run by Republican loyalists.

The minister of postal service and telecommunications–Ruben Tonoyan–will see his agency merge with the transport ministry which he will head. Tonoyan represents the Democratic party– the Yerkrpah’s junior partner in Miasnutyun.

Hovannes Hovannisian of the second-biggest Kayunutyun group in parliament denied reports that he was invited to replace Oskanian. It was also not clear who could head the remaining ministries–including those of education–energy–environment and privatization.

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–one of the eight parties that signed the joint statement–told RFE/RL that the party has not submitted ministerial candidacies to Sargsyan as was requested by the latter. David Vartanian of the National Democratic Union declined to give the names of those individuals whom the opposition party would like to see in the government.

Although there was no official reaction to the latest developmen’s from Kocharian–Unity’s Markarian said the head of state has a "positive opinion" about changes in the executive. Under the Armenian constitution–the government’s composition must be endorsed by the president.

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