Kocharian Says Emergency Measures to End Friday

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian said Thursday that the state of the emergency will be lifted on Friday according to schedule.
President Robert Kocharian, who ends his second term in office on April 9, said today he will not extend the state of emergency which he imposed earlier this month after opposition protests led to violent clashes with police.
"I see no reason to extend the state of emergency in Yerevan, the outgoing president told reporters. "Tomorrow our capital city will be back to its normal state of affairs."
The 20-day state of emergency was declared on March 1 following mass protests against the February 19 presidential election, which the opposition claimed was rigged. Eight people died and more than 100 were injured during the disturbances in downtown Yerevan.
Kocharian said Armenia was always reputed as one of the safest countries in the world. Now, he said, we all must work to restore the country’s good name and image.
Kocharian said the post-election developmen’s showed that Armenian democracy should be safeguarded against demagogy. "We have carried out economic and public reforms but the experience shows we need to have clear-cut legislation to protect the foundations of our statehood," he said.
He said in Germany people who call for disobedience to law-enforcement bodies will be sentenced to five years in jail. Kocharian said he will initiate a legislative bill that would enforce tougher norms for protection of the statehood’s foundations.
"I must hand over a stable country and government to the next president. We were not able to prevent the events of March 1 but we were able to prevent more serious consequences," he said.
Kocharian also warned the opposition against staging new unsanctioned rallies in Yerevan saying mass assemblies in the capital within the next few weeks may pose serious threats to public security.
He said if the warnings are ignored then law-enforcement bodies would respond appropriately and in accordance with the law.
Kocharian also expressed the government’s readiness to discuss proposals concerning the stabilization of the situation in Armenia made by PACE representative John Prescott and supported by the PACE Monitoring Committee.
The President said that the prospect of a dialogue mainly depends on the readiness of the sides to accept the first proposal of the OSCE representatives, recognizing the decision of the Constitutional Court on the results of presidential elections.
According to the Armenian President, if all the sides agree to this proposal, "the situation will pass on to another dimension, and it will allow the discussing of other issues."
Criminal Cases for 40-50 people arrested in connection with the March 1 events will soon be heard in the courts, Kocharian added. But he did not reject the possibility of pardoning some of the accused, a move proposed by the PACE delegation.
"I do not rule out the possibility that the new President may make a legal decision on pardoning a certain part of the arrested people, but, this may take place only after the legal consideration of the cases," Kocharian explained. "I believe that this is exactly what our European colleagues were suggesting."

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