The Armenian National Congress (HAK) moved on Thursday to take the pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament to court for thwarting a plenary session on an election-related bill drafted by the opposition bloc.
HAK lawmakers said their colleagues from the ruling Republican Party (HHK) violated the Armenian constitution when they boycotted the session slated for Wednesday. They said they will try to have the Constitutional Court declare the move unconstitutional.
The HHK boycott meant that the National Assembly did not make a quorum to formally debate the bill on Wednesday. The HAK and other opposition forces say it violated Article 70 of the constitution which allows the parliamentary minority to initiate extraordinary sessions without the majority’s consent.
“The minority has the right to speak up,” said Aram Manukian, HAK deputy. “The authorities committed a serious mistake. The matter was moved from the parliament … to the street. It will reach the Constitutional Court next and we will then use the street again.”
“Article 70 says nothing about quorum,” countered Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and the chief HHK spokesman. He also argued that the National Assembly statutes allow all factions to boycott parliament sessions.
“The Constitutional Court will decide whether or not there was a constitutional violation,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Under Armenian law, appeals to the Constitutional Court need to be signed by at least 27 of the 131 members of the legislature in order to be considered. The HAK holds only 7 parliament seats. The opposition bloc hopes that its legal action will be backed by other minority factions, notably the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).