By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The uncertainty over the date of a planned constitutional referendum in Armenia deepened on Tuesday after the leadership of its parliament postponed debates on amendments proposed by President Robert Kocharian.
The opposition accused the parliament's pro-presidential majority of reneging on an earlier agreement to discuss Kocharian’s package immediately after the completion of similar debates on its own alternative constitution. But the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Tigran Torosian, denied the existence of any formal agreements.
Torosian told RFE/RL that Kocharian needs at least one month to consider “numerous proposals” regarding his amendments made by the deputies. Torosian said the presidential package is therefore “unlikely to be put to debate before mid-April.”
The parliament on Monday wrapped up week-long debates on the opposition draft which would turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic. Six opposition parties that have co-authored the constitutional bill want the parliament to put it on the referendum along with Kocharian’s amendments. However, the parliament majority appears to be adamant in its rejection of that option.
The opposition hoped that a simultaneous vote on the two conflicting versions of constitutional reform would improve its chances. The postponement of the debates made that impossible.
The opposition has two weeks to put its draft to the parliament vote.