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Opposition Postpones Parliament Vote On Draft Constitution


By Ruzanna Khachatrian

Six opposition parties on Wednesday postponed indefinitely a parliament vote on their draft constitution for Armenia, anticipating its almost certain rejection by the majority of deputies loyal to President Robert Kocharian.

The opposition wants the National Assembly to put the bill on a referendum along with Kocharian’s constitutional amendment package.

It removed the bill from the parliament agenda, accusing the parliament majority of violating an agreement to hold simultaneous votes on the two conflicting versions of constitutional reform.

The parliament on March 19 put off planned debates on Kocharian’s draft amendments amid signs that the president is no longer pushing for the holding of the constitutional referendum this year.

The main author of the opposition draft, Shavarsh Kocharian, said the authorities have decided to shelve the referendum plans. “We will reintroduce our draft at an opportune moment,” he said.

Last month the legislators held a one-week debate on the opposition draft which would turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic. The pro-Kocharian majority remained adamant in its rejection of the idea.

Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker, has told RFE/RL that the discussion of Kocharian’s proposed changes is unlikely to take place “before mid-April.”
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