ARF Takes its Campaign to Regions Ahead of Saturday Vote

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation appeared to have publicly laid claim on Wednesday to the crucial post of defense minister in Armenia’s new government to be formed as a result of Saturdays parliamentary elections. Campaigning in Yerevans western Ajapnyak district, leaders of the influential party also reiterated that they will quit the government if the vote falls short of democratic standards or if the next National Assembly is dominated by other political groups. ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian, made it clear that his party can only be part of a national government in which the ministers of education and defense represent political parties espousing a national ideology. Those are political posts, and it is only political forces that have to assume political posts, he told more than two hundred supporters attending the campaign rally. Our greatest misfortune is that very often political posts are assumed by those who do not represent a political force or a party. We must put an end to this. The country must be governed by political parties, said another ARF leader, Social Security Minister Aghvan Hovsepian. The world doesnt know of a better system of governance. Speaking to RFE/RL after his speech, Rustamian did not deny that the ARF was unhappy with the decision and believed that Harutiunian must be replaced after the elections. There must be a political leadership at the Defense Ministry, he said. The defense sphere must be reformed. Military service must be separated from the political management of defense. ARF Bureau member Vahan Hovannesian also exposed the partys disaffection with the situation as he addressed the crowd. Some say political posts must not be held by representatives of political parties, he said. But who should hold them? He who pays a bigger bribe? We will never be the fifth wheel of a coalition, Rustamian told RFE/RL. Secondly, we will never be part of a government formed by a dubiously elected National Assembly. Those who try to distort the vote of our people in this election will deal with both laws of the Republic of Armenia and with Dashnaktsutyun, and there wont be any forgiveness, Hovannesian said in his speech.

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