ARF Offered Posts in New Government

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation said on Wednesday that it has been offered senior positions in a new government to be formed by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and is currently weighing up its options. ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian confirmed that the party, which is represented in the outgoing cabinet, is involved in those talks but refused to give details. We are holding discussions right now and I wouldnt like to make any commen’s now, he told RFE/RL. There have been various kinds of offers, but we can not say anything concrete at the moment, Rustamian said, adding that a decision will be made very soon. Another ARF leader, Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian, said he hoped his party would choose to stay in government and allow him to retain his job. I have a desire to work because we have just launched a program [of education reforms] and can see its first results, he told RFE/RL. It all depends on the partys decision, added Mkrtchian. That is, if Dashnaktsutyun decides to be part [of the new government] I will keep working. If it decides otherwise, I will comply with that decision. Rustamian has repeatedly stated before that the ARF will not serve as a fifth wheel in a coalition government not dependent on its parliamentary backing. Nonetheless, the influential party seems ready, in principle, to remain in government, despite the fact that the HHK will be able to single-handedly control the parliament. During the election campaign ARF leaders implicitly laid claim to the posts of defense and education ministers. The Republic Party appears willing to share power with the ARF, even though the Republican Party of Armenia won an outright majority in parliament in this months general elections. Meeting with Western election observers on Tuesday, Sarkisian said the Republican Party was ready to engage able parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forces into both the government and the National Assembly in order to maximize popular trust in his new cabinet. A government statement cited him as saying that negotiations are already being conducted in that direction. The Prosperous Armenia Party, which came in a distant second in the elections, is also presumably involved in the ongoing talks. Under the Armenian constitution, Kocharian has to appoint a prime minister nominated by the parliament majority within ten days from the first session of the newly elected National Assembly expected on June 7. The new premier will have 20 days to form his cabinet.

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