Armenian lawmakers are due to convene for a special session next week to discuss a raft of amendments to election laws after the largest opposition faction secured the support of more than a third of parliament members for its initiative Thursday.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), which has a seven-member faction in the 131-seat National Assembly, said a total of 44 deputies, including members of other minority factions, backed its proposal to gather on November 21 to debate amendments to the Electoral and Criminal Codes as well as the Law on the State Registration of the Population.
HAK parliamentary faction leader Levon Zurabian said that among the lawmakers who provided their signatures in favor of the initiative were representatives of all minority groups, including the Prosperous Armenia Party, Dashnaktsutyun and Heritage.
The HAK representative stressed that the changes proposed by his opposition alliance will be instrumental in preventing fraud during next year’s presidential election.
“We suggest that from now on only citizens who are in the territory of Armenia should be included in the electoral roll. All those who are absent from Armenia for more than six months must be excluded from this roll,” Zurabian said, in particular.
The Armenian opposition has accused the government of taking advantage of the absence of up to 700,000 eligible voters from Armenia to commit fraud in last May’s parliamentary elections in which the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) achieved a landslide victory according to official results.
Election authorities and government officials have denied the claim. They also said that eliminating citizens from electoral rolls on the basis of their absence from the country would amount to violating their constitutional rights.
According to Armenian election laws, voting takes place only in the territory of the republic.
Meanwhile, deputy parliament speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who represents the HHK, has expressed doubts that the National Assembly will have the quorum to hold the special meeting.
“I don’t think that the opposition agenda will be backed in parliament by 66 deputies as is required by law,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am). He called this latest opposition initiative another “political show”.