ARF Leaders Again Meet Kocharian On New Coalition

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The leadership of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation was having what appeared to be final deliberations on its continued presence in Armenia’s government on Friday after holding more talks with President Robert Kocharian. ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian told RFE/RL that Kocharian presented him and other top party leaders with “new proposals” on the terms of the party’s involvement in a coalition government to be formed by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian. Markarian refused to disclose those proposals, saying only that they will be presented to the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia. The body met later on Friday but made no decisions apart from instructing its collective leadership to draft a response to Kocharian’s proposals. “The meeting was adjourned,” a senior party member, Gegham Manukian, told RFE/RL. “Discussions will continue later on.” Markarian implied that the influential party will announce on Saturday whether or not it will join Sarkisian’s cabinet. Markarian and the top Supreme Body member, Armen Rustamian, already met Kocharian on Wednesday but apparently failed to reach any agreement. Lragir.am reported that they also held more with Sarkisian and other senior representatives of the governing Republican Party in Kocharian’s presence late Thursday. According to the online news service, the ARF leaders again rejected Sarkisian’s deman’s that they commit themselves to supporting him in next year’s presidential election in return for retaining their control over three or four government ministries. In an interview with RFE/RL earlier this week, Markarian said his party is seeking a greater say in the formulation of key government policies and will not be “bribed” by ministerial portfolios.

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