New Prime Minister Presented to Cabinet

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian presented the newly appointed Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian to members of Armenia’s interim government on Thursday, praising him as a hard-working and honest individual with plenty of political experience. I have personally known him for a very long time, Kocharian said at the start of a weekly cabinet session. He is a hard-working, honest and consistent individual. I am convinced that he is able to lead the government in this critical period, especially considering the fact that we dont have anybody else with so much experience. Kocharian specifically referred Sarkisians track record at the Armenian Defense Ministry which he has headed for nearly seven years preceding his appointment as prime minister. Serzh Sarkisians contribution to the strengthening of our army is difficult to overestimate, he said in remarks broadcast by state television. Kocharian and Sarkisian are both natives of Nagorno-Karabakh, having governed the disputed territory before moving to senior government positions in Yerevan in 1997 and 1993 respectively. Sarkisian, who made no public statemen’s on Thursday, was named prime minister late Wednesday ten days after the sudden death of the previous premier, Andranik Markarian. The development formalized his long-standing status as Armenia’s second most powerful leader. He is also certain to become the undisputed leader of the governing Republican Party, of which Markarian was the chairman. The Republican Party and two other parties represented in the government welcomed Kocharians choice of the prime minister, saying that it is logical and will maintain political stability in the country ahead of the May 12 parliamentary elections. The organization that won the plurality of votes [in the last elections] has the right to name a prime minister, which is what it has done, said Hrant Markarian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

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