The opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Tuesday that it will boycott an ongoing extraordinary session of Armenia’s parliament that will likely approve more than a hundred government bills in a matter of days.
The National Assembly began debating them on Monday under a so-called “accelerated procedure” that effectively precludes their in-depth discussion by deputies. Among the bills are major draft amendments to Armenian laws regulating construction, mining and the state pension system.
The government is also seeking to push through the parliament, in the second and final readings, highly controversial amendments allowing the existence of private foreign-language schools in the country.
Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, Vahan Hovannisian, argued that the lawmakers will physically be unable to scrutinize the proposed legislation. He said the government has also deliberately made sure that they have no time to propose changes in the hefty legislative package.
“This is not the first time that on the eve of the new year, right after the end of the [regular parliament] session, the government is bringing a huge number of bills -- 141, according to our calculations -- to the National Assembly for passage,” Hovannisian told the parliament. “What they should have done in the course of the year they are trying push through now.”
“We don’t accept this style,” he said, adding that he and the 15 other members of the Dashnaktsutyun faction in the 131-member assembly will not take part in further debates and the votes on the government package.
Representatives of Zharangutyun, the other opposition party represented in the parliament, also denounced the government but decided not to boycott the session. “We are not sure that our boycott would influence the hearts and minds of the parliament majority and that they would understand that the process is not legitimate,” Zharangutyun’s Stepan Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Dashnaktsutyun’s concerns were also shared by some deputies from the pro-government Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). “I don’t welcome discussion of very important and decisive laws in this fashion,” one of them, Vartan Bostanjian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
But Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the majority Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), dismissed the Dashnaktsutyun boycott. He claimed that most of the bills on the agenda of the extraordinary session were discussed by relevant parliament committees for more than year.
For his part, Victor Dallakian, an independent parliamentarian, accused Dashnaktsutyun of hypocrisy. He said while Dashnaktsutyun’s arguments are valid, the nationalist party did not protest against hasty passage of government bills when it was part of the governing coalition. “I think everybody must be principled,” Dallakian said.