Armenian President Robert Kocharian has decreed the creation of a Political Council Attached to the Presidency, made up of representatives of the political parties. Fourteen parties across the political spectrum are represented. These include: the Justice and Unity coalition of five parties–Yerkrapah, Dashnaksutiun, Self-Determination Union, Liberal-Democrat and Scientific-Industrial Union–which supported Kocharian’s presidential candidacy; the formerly ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement and its ally Shamiram (a women’s movement); the National-Democratic Union; the Communist Party (rightist and leftist challengers to Kocharian in the elections); the Union of Socialist Forces; and several other parties. (Noyan-Tapan, June 24 and 25)
Billed as a mechanism for consultations on policy and legislation, the Political Council appears designed for two main functions: first, to deflect pressure for anticipated parliamentary elections; and second, to coopt as many elite groups as possible into a coalition that might support, or at least not oppose, presidential initiatives. Kocharian has also created the institution of presidential advisers for similar purposes. The advisers were also selected on a strictly political basis from among party leaders. These seeming institutional innovations are necessitated by the nonrepresentative composition of the incumbent parliament (stemming from the fraudulent elections of 1995) and the president’s need to build consensus and coalitions in the absence of political forces loyal to him and his program.
RUSSIAN-KAZAKH “ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP” ON HOLD FOR NOW.