in EnglishSource : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27250194.html
Armenian Parliament Opens Debate On Constitution
Հրապարակված է՝ 15.09.2015
The National Assembly began debating on Tuesday President Serzh Sarkisian’s constitutional reform package envisaging a radical change of Armenia’s government system which opposition parties say would prolong his rule.
The long list of amendments drafted by an ad hoc presidential commission reached the parliament floor nearly one month after being sent to the parliament’s leadership. Earlier this month the Sarkisian administration agreed to revise some of them in an effort to satisfy the Council of Europe and some opposition groups that seem ready to back Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic.
Vartan Poghosian, a member of the commission, told lawmakers that the draft amendments could undergo more changes during the parliament debates. He said the commission is open to constructive proposals that would “further improve” the text.
Two opposition parties represented in the parliament, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage), remained adamant in categorically rejecting the proposed reform. They insisted that Sarkisian is keen to remain in power in a different capacity after his second and final presidential term expires in 2018.
“He should be sent to prison in a manner defined by law, instead of having a bill prolonging his tenure debated here,” declared Zaruhi Postanjian, an outspoken deputy from Zharangutyun.
The verbal attack provoked angry rebuttals from some of her colleagues affiliated with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). They repeatedly interrupted Postanjian’s speech.
The HAK’s parliamentary leader, Levon Zurabian, demanded, meanwhile, that the debate be broadcast live on state television. “You are trying to hatch a plot behind the people’s backs. This once again shows that you are afraid of public opinion and therefore want to do this secretly,” Zurabian charged after speaker Galust Sahakian rejected the demand.
Sahakian announced later in the day that the Public Television of Armenia has agreed to start broadcasting the proceedings on Wednesday.
With the HHK and its allies enjoying a comfortable majority in the assembly, the constitutional bill will almost certainly win parliamentary approval later this month. This will pave the way for a referendum on the proposed changes.
“I think that we will be prepared to hold the referendum in early December, if the National Assembly gives a positive opinion,” said Vahram Baghdasarian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader.
Baghdasarian suggested that the parliament could tentatively endorse the draft amendments already this week. “We think it right to quickly complete the first phase [of the debate] so that we have more time to work on proposals,” he said.
The HAK and Zharangutyun have pledged to spare no effort to try to scuttle the reform. On Saturday, they joined more than two dozen non-governmental organizations in forming an alliance that will campaign against it. The alliance plans to hold rallies across the country in the run-up to the referendum.
in EnglishSource : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/27246722.html
Armenian Groups Join Forces Against Constitutional Changes
Հրապարակված է՝ 14.09.2015
About three dozen opposition parties, civic groups and other non-governmental organizations pledged at the weekend to jointly fight against sweeping amendments to Armenia’s constitution sought by President Serzh Sarkisian.
They stood by their claims that Sarkisian is keen to circumvent a constitutional ban on a third presidential term by expediting the country’s transition to the parliamentary system of government.
“We are calling on citizens of the Republic of Armenia and all political and social groups to join in the struggle unfolding in the country,” read a joint declaration adopted by their leaders during a conference held in Yerevan. It said their “No Front” alliance will strive to mount “popular resistance” to the controversial constitutional reform.
The alliance comprises two of the opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament: Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage). Its establishment was initiated by the You Won’t Pass It pressure group which was set up recently with the specific aim of scuttling the constitutional changes expected to be put on a referendum later this year.
Armen Grigorian, the You Won’s Pass It leader, said the “No Front” will hold nationwide rallies as part of its campaign. But neither he nor other leaders of the new alliance went into details of that campaign.
“We will do everything to ensure that this constitutional draft reinforcing Serzh Sarkisian’s dictatorship does not pass,” said Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman. “It won’t be a constitutional referendum. It will be a referendum about whether or not Serzh Sarkisian should stay on as Armenia’s dictator.”
Armen Martirosian, a Zharangutyun leader, said that the No campaign will succeed only if Sarkisian is forced to resign. “Armenia’s problems cannot be solved without the ouster of the current illegitimate regime,” he said.
The Founding Parliament, a more radical opposition movement that also joined the grouping, likewise stressed the need to use the forthcoming referendum for a regime change drive.
Sarkisian has repeatedly stated that he will not become prime minister or hold any other state post after completing his second term in 2018 if Armenia’s becomes a parliamentary republic. Opponents of his constitutional reform dismiss these assurances.