Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 48

Citing medical problems, Armen Sarksian on March 7 submitted his resignation as prime minister of Armenia only four months after taking office. Speaking by telephone from London to a group of selected journalists assembled at government headquarters in Yerevan, Sarksian denied the existence of any political differences between himself and President Levon Ter-Petrosian or the President’s close associate, Defense Minister Vazgen Sarksian. Ter-Petrosian offered to appoint an acting prime minister pending Armen Sarksian’s medical recovery and return to the premiership, but the latter said he declined. He also told the news conference that he hoped the president would continue the economic reforms program and dialogue with the opposition that Sarksian initiated during his brief premiership.

Sarksian, 44, a professor of physics turned senior diplomat, was appointed prime minister last November. During a visit to the U.S. in January he made sweeping promises of political democratization and renewed commitment to economic reforms, an action that clearly distanced him from the Ter-Petrosian administration’s internal policies. Back home, he attempted to launch the promised political dialogue with the opposition. In February, Sarksian underwent minor surgery for a trachea problem and has been convalescing since. The presidency insisted all along that Sarksian was recovering well and that he would soon return to office.

Opposition representatives, who value Sarksian’s efforts toward a political reconciliation, question the purely medical reasons cited for Sarksian’s resignation and assume that the outgoing Prime Minister did have his differences with the presidency. They also fault the secretive Ter-Petrosian administration for failing to inform the public of the real situation. The opposition also notes the fact that Sarksian declined to join the privileged presidential "clans." (Respublika Armeniia, Noyan-Tapan, Armenpress, March 7-9)

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