A senior representative of Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) on Thursday effectively rejected an opposition lawmaker’s calls for the country’s three main opposition groups to seek President Serzh Sarkisian’s impeachment.
The outspoken lawmaker, Nikol Pashinian, is due to circulate a relevant bill in parliament on Friday. The BHK, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun Party have more than 44 parliament votes needed for forcing an emergency session on the matter.
Pashinian said on Monday that the three parties challenging Sarkisian should prove their stated commitment to “regime change” by backing his initiative. His warning seemed primarily addressed to the BHK, the second largest parliamentary force that has so far refrained from publicly demanding Sarkisian’s resignation.
Mikael Melkumian, a senior BHK lawmaker, indicated that Tsarukian’s party is against launching impeachment proceedings against the president at this juncture. He argued that the opposition trio has other issues on its agenda.
“We need to achieve all that step by step,” Melkumian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We should not make any moves that could be seen as untimely. We are going ahead with our program.”
The HAK, of which Pashinian is a former senior member, avoided any comment on the initiative. The HAK’s parliamentary leader, Levon Zurabian, said the party has not yet discussed it.
For his part, Tevan Poghosian, a Zharangutyun deputy, said that the opposition party led by Raffi Hovannisian will formulate a position after receiving Pashinian’s written justifications for the impeachment bid. Still, Poghosian noted that the idea is “acceptable” in principle.
Pashinian’s move drew praise from Alexander Arzumanian, another opposition lawmaker presently not affiliated with any party. Arzumanian said that it will put the trio’s opposition credentials to the test. “Maybe this will be a process of mini-lustration within the opposition camp,” he told a news conference.
With the ruling Republican Party of Armenia holding the majority of parliament seats, the impeachment bill is certain to fail even if it is backed by the BHK, the HAK and Zharangutyun.