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Parliament Majority Rules Out Further Reform Of Election Law


Armenia - Eduard Sharmazanov (L) and other deputies from the ruling Republican Party at a parliament session.

Armenia - Eduard Sharmazanov (L) and other deputies from the ruling Republican Party at a parliament session.

The Armenian parliament will make no more changes in electoral legislation that are sought by the country’s main opposition forces, its deputy speaker, Eduard Sharmazanov, said on Friday.

“The Electoral Code has already been reformed,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), referring to a package of government-backed amendments adopted by the National Assembly in May.

The Armenian authorities and their loyal parliamentary majority say the amendments allow for the proper conduct of parliamentary elections due in May next year. The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties dismiss these assurances and demand more radical safeguards against chronic electoral fraud.

A top HAK representative, Levon Zurabian, suggested on Thursday that the three opposition groups jointly draft further amendments to the Electoral Code before the May polls. Zurabian expressed hope that those amendments would also be backed by some deputies from President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and its coalition partners.

Sharmazanov, who is also the HHK’s chief spokesman, made clear that the National Assembly will not even debate such amendments during its spring 2012 session. “In theory many things could happen but I in practice I rule that out,” he said.

Sharmazanov insisted that the authorities are committed to holding democratic elections. “In any country two things are needed for holding normal elections: legislative reforms and the political will,” he said. “We have already carried out legislative reforms. A new Electoral Code was adopted several months before the elections. And we have the political will.”

“It would have been much better if people making proposals now had participated in the work on reforming the Electoral Code at that time. Maybe some of their proposals would have been adopted,” he added in an apparent reference to the HAK.

Deputies from Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun did propose more far-reaching amendments to the Code, which are now advocated by the HAK, during parliament debates last spring. But they were blocked by the parliament majority.
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