By Armen Zakarian
Opposition groups pushing for a parliament debate on bringing impeachment proceedings against President Robert Kocharian received on Saturday a strong boost from a senior pro-government parliamentarian.
Victor Dallakian, chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, defied leaders of the parliament majority to state that the opposition is entitled to including the issue on the parliament agenda without enlisting the support of at least 44 deputies. Dallakian said the recently adopted statues of the National Assembly do allow for that.
The opposition factions, which failed to collect the required number of deputies’ signatures last month, unexpectedly invoked the legal loophole on Wednesday. The parliamentary statutes allow any deputy to put a motion related to an issue currently debated by legislators.
The demand for an impeachment debate was voiced by one of the opposition lawmakers, Ghukas Ulikhanian. He linked it to the findings of a special parliamentary commission overseeing the investigation into the October 1999 shootings as they were formally presented to the deputies.
Leaders of the pro-presidential factions have dismissed the opposition arguments, saying that the two issues are not related to each other. The deputy speaker, Tigran Torosian, and the leader of the largest Miasnutyun faction, Galust Sahakian, on Thursday spoke out strongly against a debate on Kocharian’s constitutional removal.
Both men are leading members of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK). Dallakian is also affiliated with the HHK, a fact that has fueled speculation about growing disagreements among the Republicans.
“I am surprised at their surprise,” Dallakian told a roundtable discussion in Yerevan, referring to fellow deputies supporting Kocharian. He denounced some of them as “people who did not go to school” and stressed that the impeachment issue should be considered to have been automatically included on the parliament agenda.
The next session of the 131-member assembly is scheduled for June 10. But it is still not clear whether its pro-presidential leadership will allow the impeachment debate.