ARMENIA: Ruling Party Discloses Sargsyan’s Plans, Opposition says “NO”

For the second consecutive day, Armenian Parliament is talking over the details  of the new constitutional project suggested by the President, according to which Armenia will change its semi-presidential status and become a Parliamentary Republic, with the Speaker of Parliament standing as the Head of State.

The project is being strongly criticized by the main opposition forces in the country.

On 12th September around three dozen non-government organizations, civic initiatives and parties, such as Armenian National Congress (the main opposition party in the country lead by the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosian and Heritage party lead by Sargsyan’s main rival during the 2013 presidential elections Raffi Hovhannisian), signed a declaration to form a coalition, the so-called ‘NO Front,’ to oppose the constitutional change which they call a ‘constitutional coup’.  

‘NO Front’ representatives say the aim of forming a coalition is to fight Sargsyan’s plan to establish an everlasting dictatorship in the country by organizing rallies all over Armenia to disrupt the referendum against the state and constitution.

Sargsyan, whose second presidential term is to end in April 2018, is currently constitutionally unable to run for a third presidential term. The opponents of Sargsyan are sure the planned change of constitution is aimed at avoiding this limitation and enabling him to rule the country through the position of Speaker of Parliament, who, according to the suggested project, will be de jure leader of the state with no constitutional limitations. No article in the current draft regulates how the Speaker of Parliament can be removed from his/her post while the ones concerning the President and the Prime Minister remain in place.

The Opposition’s arguments against Sargsyan were submitted by his ruling Republican party representatives in Parliament, Margarit Yesayan and Ruben Hovsepian, who announced that Sargsyan can’t go home after the last presidential term expires in 2008.

Yesayan went further, disclosing Sargsyan’s plans to stay in power even after his last presidential term.

“Look at his biography. Why should a politician and statesman with such a rich background stay at home after the end of his tenure?”  said Republican party representative Margarit Yesayan during the parliamentary debate yesterday, adding that “Sargsyan’s presence in the government is essential for the country.”

While the representative of opposition Heritage party in the parliament Zaruhi Postanjyan announced: “Sargsyan should be sent to prison in a manner defined by law, instead of having an opportunity to  prolonging his rule.”

Postanjyan’s ally in ‘NO Front,’ Levon Zurabian, head of the parliament’s biggest opposition party announced that by saying “No” in the referendum, the citizen’s will say “NO” to the regime.

The debates in Parliament are set to continue over the next few days, but the decision about the national referendum will be accepted at a later date. The leader of the ruling Republican faction of the parliament, Vahram Baghdasaryan, said that he expects the referendum to take place in December 2015.

Karen Tovmasyan

17 September 2015 20:47