By Shakeh Avoyan
Thirteen leading Armenian opposition parties warned on Thursday that they will disrupt next week’s session of the parliament if its pro-government majority refuses to discuss a possible launch of impeachment proceeding against President Robert Kocharian. They insisted that they are entitled to a parliament debate on the issue without securing the support of at least one third of the 131 deputies.
“The deputies have the right to occupy the tribune and disrupt the proceedings if the issue is not put on debate in blatant violation of the law,” said Albert Bazeyan, a leader of the Hanrapetutyun party, the driving force behind the impeachment campaign.
The recently adopted parliament statutes allow deputies to put a motion related to an issue currently under discussion. The opposition did so unexpectedly last week, during the discussion of a report by a parliamentary commission overseeing the investigation into the October 1999 assassinations.
The parliament majority dismissed the move, arguing that the two issues are not related to each other. However, one of its senior representatives, Victor Dallakian, endorsed the opposition demands on Saturday. Dallakian, who heads the parliament committee on legal affairs, said the impeachment issue should be considered to have been automatically included on the parliament agenda.
Still, deputy speaker Tigran Torosian was on Thursday quoted by a newspaper as saying that the parliament leadership will bar it from the agenda. Torosian said the opposition could then challenge the decision at the Constitutional Court.
But opposition leaders warned that they will not allow the assembly to discuss any other issue unless their demands are met. They said they will again rally supporters outside the parliament building to put pressure on the lawmakers.
According to Bazeyan, the renewed street protests could degenerate into a “nationwide civil disobedience or uprising.” “The impeachment issue will remain on the agenda and will be discussed sooner or later,” he said. “We will go after Robert Kocharian. He can’t run away all the time.”
Kocharian’s supporters believe that there are no legal grounds for impeaching the president. They say the opposition is aware of this, but continues to raise the issue in a bid to discredit the head of state.