By Anush Dashtents
Major opposition parties campaigning for Robert Kocharian’s ouster have postponed the collection of signatures in the parliament in favor of impeachment proceedings against the Armenian president. Officials from the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) and the National Accord and Hanrapetutyun (Republic) parties said on Monday they are still working on the text of a document listing his alleged violations of the constitution.
Hanrapetutyun’s leader, former prime minister Aram Sarkisian, said the three allied parties, which accused Kocharian of mismanagement and sponsorship of “terrorism,” have worked out the main points of the impeachment declaration but have yet to agree on its final language.
According to Vladimir Nazarian, a senior HZhK member and prominent lawyer, the opposition will seek to prove that several presidential decrees signed in the spring of last year, at the height of the government infighting, were unconstitutional. One of the decrees involved the dismissal of Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, a close ally of then Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian. The two men were fired simultaneously.
Nazarian, who is one of the authors of the current constitution, argued that the basic law does not allow Kocharian to sack cabinet members without the prime minister’s approval. “The law does not give him the right to dismiss the defense minister without the prime minister’s consent,” he told RFE/RL. “The abuse of power is thus evident.”
Under the Armenian constitution, the president can be removed from office if the Constitutional Court convicts him of high treason or other “grave crimes.” The three opposition parties, which are closing to forming an alliance, lack sufficient support to raise the issue in the parliament, and their impeachment campaign is widely seen as just a show of force.
Kocharian scoffed at the resignation demands at the weekend, announcing that he will run for reelection when his five-year term expires in 2003.