ARF Members Will Retain their Chairmanships

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation announced Thursday that its members Armen Rustamian and Arthur Aghabekian will retain the chairmanship of key commissions in Armenia’s National Assembly, despite the party’s decision to pull out of Armenia’s ruling coalition earlier this week.

In making the announcement, the ARF Parliamentary Bloc chairman Vahan Hovanessian said “A powerful opposition will strengthen Armenia’s statehood. It is because of this principle that we decided to accept the suggestion, in an effort to not shift the political landscape.”

Rustamian chairs the parliamentary commission on foreign relations, while Aghabekian heads the commission on defense and national security. The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hrair Karapetian resigned his post, in accordance with the decision to leave the coalition as that post is a governing one.

All ARF members holding senior positions in the executive and legislative branches of government tendered their resignations earlier this week following the party’s decision to leave the coalition after President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration announced it had agreed on a “roadmap” for normalizing relations with Turkey on April 22, on the eve of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Speaking on behalf of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and the three parties remaining in government, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian on Wednesday urged the ARF to withdraw Rustamian’s and Aghabekian’s resignations. The ARF’s Supreme Council in Armenia met to discuss the offer later in the day.

Hovannesian said the party was “mindful of the fact that this step is aimed at making the political area healthier” noting that the ARF has for years “fought, both inside and outside the coalition, for expanding opposition rights in our country and creating a civilized environment for debate.”

“We will strive to ensure that the opposition has more mechanisms for counterbalancing and restraining the authorities while working with them,” he said. “A strong opposition strengthens the state.”

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