By Shakeh Avoyan
The Armenian government offered on Friday to water down its proposed controversial sanctions against troublemaking deputies after facing stiff resistance in the parliament.
As the two-day heated debates on the issue drew to a close, a government representative asked the parliament to postpone by two weeks its vote on the proposals, which would give its speaker sweeping powers to punish deputies disrupting debate. The official, Deputy Justice Minister Tigran Mukuchian, said the government is prepared to amend its legislative package to make it more acceptable to the lawmakers.
Leaders of the parliament's pro-government majority, who were strongly supporting the draft amendments in the parliament statutes during Thursday's debates, admitted the next day that they are flawed. "We do see that there are many provisions in this draft that need to be clarified," said speaker Armen Khachatrian.
The leader of the largest Miasnutyun faction, Galust Sahakian, similarly noted that the government draft "should undergo changes." He at the same time stressed that it was the result of this month's turmoil in the assembly caused by opposition deputies demanding a debate on impeaching President Robert Kocharian.
The draft amendments would allow the speaker to remove deputies from the parliament hall and ban them from entering it for up to 15 days. The speaker would be able to order police to enforce the sanctions.
The extraordinary proposals have been criticized by many deputies, including those supporting Kocharian. Opposition factions have accused him of seeking to suppress dissent in the 131-member chamber already dominated by his loyalists.
Artur Baghdasarian, the leader of the pro-presidential Orinats Yerkir party, said the definition of "disrupting order" in the existing government proposals is vague and ambiguous. He said the parliament regulations should specify in which concrete cases can the deputies be punished.
According to Mukuchian, the government is ready to accept some of the suggestions made by the deputies. The suggestions will be processed by the parliament committee on legal affairs.
Its chairman, Victor Dallakian, has strongly criticized the proposed parliament sanctions.