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Armenia: Armenian Prime Minister, Defense Minister Ousted

YEREVAN, 2 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - Armenian President Robert Kocharian today dismissed the country's prime minister and defense minister. Kocharian said in a statement that Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian and Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian were ousted to stop what he described as a disarray in the government.

Kocharian said that Sarkisian and his aides had engaged in "political games" instead of tackling the country's pressing economic problems. Kocharian also said Harutiunian's activities threatened to damage the Armenian armed forces. He stopped short of providing details.

Kocharian said that he will tomorrow begin consultations with the parliamentary majority on choosing a new prime minister. Last week, a parliamentary majority took a preliminary decision to begin impeachment proceedings against Kocharian.

Under the Armenian constitution, the cabinet is appointed by the president but may be unseated by a parliament vote of no confidence.