Armenia’s new president, Robert Kocharian, yesterday appointed two key allies, Vahan Hovhanissian, as public affairs coordinator, and Parvir Hairikian, to the combined posts of head of the presidential commission for human rights and chief adviser for constitutional, legal and judicial reforms.
Hovhanissian is one of the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaksutiun (ARF). Under then President Levon Ter-Petrosian, the ARF was banned and Hovhanissian was jailed until as recently as two months ago. Hairikian, leader of the Self-Determination Union (SDU), stands out among other Armenian nationalist leaders–including Dashnaks–by virtue of his democratic credentials. The ARF supported Kocharian’s candidacy from the beginning of the presidential campaign. the SDU–whose leader Hairikian scored modestly in the first round–supported Kocharian in the runoff.
Hairikian was cited yesterday as stating that the situation of human rights in Armenia is “catastrophic.” He accepted the appointment on the understanding that the reforms should focus on curbing executive abuses, enlarging the powers of parliament and establishing the independence of the judiciary. (Azg, Noyan-Tapan, April 28)
Politically, Kocharian’s appointments represent the beginning of an effort to establish a political base for his presidency. The political parties as such are only minimally represented in the new cabinet of ministers (see The Monitor, April 20, 21). Similarly, the parties which supported Kocharian’s presidential candidacy are minimally represented in the incumbent parliament, which is mostly a vestige of the Ter-Petrosian regime. The pro-Kocharian parties expect to exercise a share of power through posts in the presidential administration and by precipitating pre-term parliamentary elections.
TEETHING PROBLEMS FOR KAZAKHSTAN’S AMBITIOUS PENSION REFORM.