Sunday, January 14, 2007

NKR presidential election

by Kristine Khanumian

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan,
10 Jan 2007 p 3

A presidential election will be held in the NKR [Nagornyy Karabakh republic] in the summer. Who are the potential candidates for president? Despite his numerous statements, incumbent President Arkadi Ghukasian [Arkadiy Gukasyan] continues to remain the No 1 candidate.

The second candidate may be the parliament speaker, Ashot Ghulian [Ashot Gulyan]. It has been repeatedly mentioned over the past two years that in order to retain power, the authorities will do everything possible not only to nominate Ghulian's candidacy but to ensure his victory as well. Ghulian, who is considered to be a politician "put forward" by Ghukasian, started his political carrier after taking over the post of NKR foreign minister from Naira Melkumian [Naira Melkumyan]. However, before the parliamentary election in 2005, he became education, culture and sport minister.

This replacement could seem nonsense at first sight, but things are not that simple. Before that, Armen Sarkisian [Armen Sarkisyan], member of the Dashnak party [the Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun, RFD] held the post of education, culture and sport minister. However, as a result of disagreements between the authorities and the Karabakh wing of the ARFD, Sarkisian was dismissed from the post and replaced with Ghulian. Ghulian's appointment to the post had its own goal: after local government elections (as a result of which opposition representatives gained victory), the authorities wanted to take "revenge" and unite their forces. The army and the police apparently were behind the authorities but a powerful system like education had been neglected.

After Ghulian's appointment to the post of education, culture and sport minister, DPA-fication (Democratic Party of Artsakh [Karabakh], established at the initiative of the incumbent regime) started in the Nagornyy Karabakh republic. The result was that the army, the police and the education system ensured the victory of the Democratic Party of Artsakh in the election. Ghulian was elected member of parliament under the proportional representation system and assumed the post of speaker of parliament. People also say that Ghulian is supported by top officials and businessmen who are natives of Askaran [town in
Nagornyy Karabakh].

The head of the National Security Service, Bako Saakian, is considered to be the No 3 candidate to come to power in the NKR. Many people in Karabakh have heard about him but few have seen the results of his activity. People say that when Saakian was foreign minister for a short period of time, he implemented serious reforms in the system. However, he was not given an opportunity to work for long. Saakian took part in almost all state events but preferred to remain in the "shadow". People say that his supporter is in Yerevan.

It cannot be ruled out that Ghulian and Saakian will put forward their candidacies in order to get as many opposition votes as possible in favour of the authorities.

Potential candidate No 4 is Deputy Foreign Minister Masis Mailian [Masis Mailyan]. He is known as an official who has outlived many ministers and has not been in the foreground that much until recently. He has become active only recently as a result of which his rating has very much gone up.

Candidate No 5 is the leader of the RFD - Movement-88 parliamentary group and former education, culture and sport minister, Armen Sarkisian. Certainly, he is not considered to be as strong as the rest of the candidates, but let us not forget that he is a member of the RFD and this may have a serious impact on the results of the election - certainly, if he puts himself forward.

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