By Karine Kalantarian
Opposition leaders attacked on Monday the chairman of Armenia’s Constitutional Court, Gagik Harutiunian, for downplaying the significance of its April call for a “referendum of confidence” in President Robert Kocharian.
They said the idea, contained in the court’s ruling on this year’s presidential election, remains valid despite Harutiunian’s claims that it has “lost its urgency” over the past six months because of reduced political tensions.
“We are talking about a decision of the Constitutional Court and it must be implemented,” said Shavarsh Kocharian of the Artarutyun (Justice) alliance.
Artarutyun’s leader, Stepan Demirchian, was incumbent Robert Kocharian’s main challenger in the two-round vote. The bloc refuses to recognize the latter’s controversial election victory and uses the referendum proposal in its continuing campaign against the “illegitimate” regime.
Another major opposition group, the National Unity Party, has also seized upon the court’s proposal. Its leader, Artashes Geghamian, finished third in the February 19 first round of voting, accused Harutiunian of being “blind and merciless” towards the electorate.
“Maybe this topic has lost its urgency for the Constitutional Court and its chairman,” Geghamian told RFE/RL. “Maybe they have seen such encouraging appointments that they now look at the issue from a different angle.”
Geghamian also voiced his support to Artarutyun’s efforts to push through amendments to Armenia’s law on referendum that would pave the way for a vote of confidence in Kocharian. He said his party would support anyone interested in regime change in Armenia. “National Unity is ready to cooperate even with the Devil for the sake of ridding the Armenian people of it this diabolic regime,” he said.
Kocharian and his allies rejected the proposed referendum out of hand, accusing the Constitutional Court of overstepping its powers.