By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The controversial government bill on civil service, twice rejected by the Armenian parliament this year, was passed in the first reading on Tuesday after intense lobbying by President Robert Kocharian. The legislation, which the authorities say will increase the efficiency and independence of the state bureaucracy, was backed by 82 members of the 131-strong assembly, far more than in the previous votings.
The fate of the bill was one of two issues on the agenda of Kocharian’s meeting last week with leaders of the parliamentary factions.
Debate on the bill has centered on a provision allowing Kocharian to name all members of a state “council” that will oversee key appointments in the civil service. Opposition factions have rejected the clause as unconstitutional.
The bill underwent further minor amendments before being put to the vote on Tuesday. The civil service council, in particular, will now have to report to the parliament every year.
The draft law will be sent to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for consideration before being discussed in the final second reading. The commission is monitoring legal reforms to ensure Armenia’s compliance with European norms.