By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Risking a potential rift with his Artarutyun alliance, a prominent opposition parliamentarian expressed on Thursday readiness to cooperate with the authorities on the planned reform of Armenia’s constitution.
Arshak Sadoyan, a senior member of Artarutyun, claimed that the country’s three governing parties back many provisions of his “alternative” draft constitution which was put into circulation in the National Assembly on Monday. He said it will put to the test the sincerity of the parliament majority’s stated readiness to give the opposition a say in the reform process spearheaded by President Robert Kocharian.
“Either they should publicly renounce their statements or reform Armenia’s constitutional order by consensus,” Sadoyan told RFE/RL. “If there is no pressure, the main political forces will back my draft,” he added, referring to the pro-Kocharian Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the Orinats Yerkir Party and “some members” of the Republican Party.
The three parties represented in Armenia’s government have reached agreement with Kocharian on a revised version of his draft constitutional amendments which were officially unveiled on August 6.
The proposed changes have been rejected as cosmetic and “illegitimate” by Artarutyun and another major opposition group, the National Unity Party (AMK). Their leaders say that Kocharian lacks the popular mandate to amend the Armenian constitution.
One of them, Shavarsh Kocharian (no relation to the president), chided Sadoyan for acting independently. “Every deputy has such a right. But it would be better if he consulted with us because we have many initiatives that have not been presented,” he said.
Shavarsh Kocharian said the authorities’ overtures to the opposition is a ploy to get Artarutyun and the AMK to end their seven-month boycott of parliament sessions. The boycott was called after the parliament majority refused to debate a “referendum of confidence” in President Kocharian which was suggested by the Constitutional Court following his controversial reelection in March 2003.
(RFE/RL photo: Arshak Sadoyan.)