By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian will formally ask the parliament later this week to rubber-stamp his proposed amendments to Armenia’s constitution and put them on a nationwide referendum in May.
Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, told RFE/RL on Monday that Kocharian will submit his constitutional package by Thursday. He predicted that most lawmakers will vote for the initiative.
Kocharian wants to combine the referendum with the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 25. He had originally hoped to hold the vote last autumn, but dropped the plans after his draft amendments faced unexpectedly strong resistance in the parliament in the beginning of last year.
Opposition factions there significantly slowed the process by forcing a debate on their alternative draft constitution which would turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic.
Kocharian’s package would somewhat curtail sweeping powers vested in the Armenian presidency the current basic law adopted in 1995. The opposition rejects the proposed changes as cosmetic. However, it lacks the muscle to block their approval by the outgoing parliament dominated by presidential loyalists.