“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the constitutional amendments approved by the Armenian parliament on Wednesday do not provide for an effective system of checks and balances between the three branches of government. “It can instead be said that while the existing constitution gives the country’s president sweeping powers, the draft proposed by the coalition would give us not just a strongman but a super-president. How our authorities plan to fool the Europeans this time around is not clear. But one of the coalition deputies in parliament advised journalists not to worry and doubt our government’s ingenuity.”
In a separate comment, “Haykakan Zhamanak” deplores the fact that Prime Minister Markarian’s son is the only candidate in an upcoming local election in Yerevan’s Avan district. Ironically, says the paper, such elections were one of the hallmarks of the Communist regime against which Markarian fought in the 1970s. “Today he is effectively hinting that one-candidate elections will become a tradition in Armenia from now on,” it says.
The campaign manager of Taron Markarian, Gagik Melikian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that he is running unopposed because his potential challengers simply decided to “save their financial resources and prestige.” Melikian believes that the prime minister’s son will be the only candidate at the next Avan election (due in 2008) as well.
“Hayots Ashkhar” defends U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans against attacks from pro-opposition media angered by his positive assessment of the state of democracy in Armenia. The paper, which alleged last week that the USAID and other U.S. organizations operate in Armenia under the CIA tutelage, praises Evans for “not meddling in our country’s internal affairs.”
“Azg” comments that President Bush’s trip to Tbilisi made the “spread of the Georgian scenario across the region and the entire world” even more likely. “Bush’s visit to Georgia left an overall impression that the U.S. president will use the example of that Caucasian state to put an end to authoritarian regimes,” says the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that opposition leader Stepan Demirchian’s meeting on Wednesday with activists of his People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) exposed his unhappiness with other parties making up the Artarutyun alliance.
“168 Zham” agrees, noting that the meeting saw more criticism of the HZhK’s Artarutyun allies than the Armenian authorities.