By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian has appointed six members of a controversial body which was created recently to oversee Armenian civil servants, the presidential office announced on Wednesday.
The seven-member Civil Service Council will be headed by Manvel Badalian, a parliament deputy loyal to the head of state. Badalian, 40, is a member of the pro-government Miasnutyun (Unity) faction, the largest in the parliament.
Kocharian also appointed the deputy minister of justice, Arevik Petrosian, as deputy chairman of the council. Badalian and Petrosian will sit on the body for six and five years respectively. The four other members will have a shorter tenure in accordance with the law on civil service passed by the National Assembly in the final reading on December 4.
The law is supposed to ensure the independence of the Armenian civil service by protecting government employees against arbitrary dismissals.
The bill had been twice rejected by lawmakers before being passed in the first reading in June. Heated debates centered on a controversial provision giving the president authority to name all seven members of the council. Opposition factions says the clause is unconstitutional.
The body in question is empowered to affect key appointments in the state bureaucracy. Its opinion will be decisive in the dismissal of government officials accused of major wrongdoing.
At a meeting with its newly appointed members on Wednesday, Kocharian was quoted by his press office as saying that “political changes must not have any impact on the civil service.”