President Serzh Sarkisian did not bow to opposition pressure late last week when he decided to slow down a controversial constitutional reform planned by him, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) insisted on Monday.
Sarkisian announced through a spokesman on Friday that his verdict on a reform “concept” proposed by an ad hoc presidential commission will not be made public before next February. Arman Saghatelian, the presidential press secretary, cited the need for “additional political discussions” with the country’s leading parties.
Representatives of three opposition parties strongly objecting to the planned reform were quick to claim credit for the move. Rallying thousands of supporters in Yerevan on October 10, they demanded that Sarkisian stop pushing constitutional amendments, which they say are aimed at prolonging his rule, and negotiate a “handover of power” to the opposition.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief spokesman for the ruling HHK, dismissed the opposition claims, saying that the anti-government protests in Yerevan have nothing to do with Sarkisian’s decision. “This [reform concept] is not the kind of a document that requires hasty decisions,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“This [decision] only shows that the president of the republic takes into account the opinions of political, social and legal circles when carrying out any reform,” he said.
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Prosperous Armenia and Zharangutyun parties are due to hold their next rally on October 24.