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Armenian Party Loses Another Minister

Mkhitar Mnatsakanian
Mkhitar Mnatsakanian
YEREVAN -- A political party led by one of Armenia's wealthiest and most influential businessmen, Gagik Tsarukian, has announced another resignation of a minister representing it in the government, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a junior partner in President Serzh Sarkisian's coalition cabinet, said Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mkhitar Mnatsakanian stepped down after only seven months in office. An Armenian government spokesman confirmed the information.

Neither the party nor the government specified the reason for the move. Mnatsakanian did not return phone calls on June 21.

Galstian said the party is not dissatisfied with its minister's track record.

"All the short-term tasks that were set for the minister have been achieved," he said without going into details. "After the president of the republic accepts the resignation, the party will nominate a candidate who will implement a long-term strategy for this sphere."

Mnatsakanian was appointed last November in place of another BHK nominee, Gevorg Petrosian. The latter quit under pressure from the party and its leader for reasons that are still not clear.

The BHK, which holds four ministerial portfolios and boasts the second-largest faction in parliament, replaced another cabinet member, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Armen Grigorian, earlier this year. That decision was also never explained.

Tsarukian, who is reputed to be close to former President Robert Kocharian, has sought to drum up greater public support for his party of late, meeting voters across the country in scenes reminiscent of election campaign trips. He has said, however, that the BHK does not anticipate pre-term parliamentary or presidential elections.