Ruling Republicans Restate Support for Kocharian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A senior member of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) led by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian restated on Tuesday–HHK’s continuing support for President Robert Kocharian–dismissing renewed speculation of a rift between the two men.

"The HHK is moving forward together with Robert Kocharian in line with our previous agreemen’s," Galust Sahakian–the governing party’s parliamentary leader. He said cooperation between Kocharian and the Republicans is based on their common "state objectives."

Sahakian downplayed last week’s harsh attacks on the government–made to Kocharian–by several heads of local governmen’s. Many Armenian commentators interpreted them as an attempt to undermine Markarian ahead of the local and presidential elections.

But according to Sahakian–the unusual outburst of criticism was just a "show staged by one government wing" hostile to the Republicans. He declined to give any names.

Kocharian is expected to rely heavily on HHK support in his bid to win a second term in the February elections. But some local observers believe that he is unwilling to become exclusively dependent on the Republicans and is looking for another pro-presidential force that would hold them in check.

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