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Opposition Still Critical Of Sarkisian’s Reform Drive


Armenia - Levon Zurabian, head of the Armenian National Congress opposition party's parliamentary faction, is interviewed by RFE/RL, Yerevan, 22 July 2014

Armenia - Levon Zurabian, head of the Armenian National Congress opposition party's parliamentary faction, is interviewed by RFE/RL, Yerevan, 22 July 2014

Two of Armenia’s main political parties challenging President Serzh Sarkisian insisted on Tuesday that there are ulterior motives behind his intention to curtail presidential powers.

Senior members of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) dismissed Sarkisian’s latest claims that the constitutional reform planned by him is “vital” for democracy and the rule of law in the country.

The BHK’s Naira Zohrabian said Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) are simply keen to strengthen their positions ahead of the next parliamentary and presidential elections due in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

“In essence, power would be entirely transferred to the parliament whose speaker would have unlimited powers and be able to appoint the president, the prime minister … So the [HHK’s] political monopoly will become even more entrenched,” claimed Zohrabian.

Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s parliamentary leader, stood by his opposition party’s claims that Sarkisian wants to stay in power in another capacity after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018. “As soon as Serzh Sarkisian’s team concludes that he is unable to enact constitutional changes and reproduce himself, it will start looking for a new ‘dad,’” he said. “There would be rifts, consolidations of various factions around various figures, and that would cause this regime to quickly collapse. This is what Serzh Sarkisian is trying to prevent with constitutional changes.”

The opposition statements were dismissed by Gevorg Danielian, a member of an ad hoc commission formed by Sarkisian with the aim of drafting the constitutional amendments. Echoing Sarkisian’s weekend remarks, Danielian said that opponents of the reform have failed to come up with any convincing arguments.

Danielian insisted that Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic, which seems to be favored by most members of the commission, would actually make it easier for opposition forces to come to power. “If I were in opposition I would state that I accept this formula as it is beneficial to me,” he told a news conference.

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