By Ruzanna KhachatrianThe parliamentary majority has torpedoed the minority’s initiative to set up an interim commission of members of parliament looking into the violations committed during last year’s constitutional referendum.
As a result of the vote on Monday the issue failed to be included on the so-called big agenda of the Parliament.
Several dozens of Republican MPs opted out of the vote, while representatives of the other two political forces of the ruling coalition, the ARF Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir parties, pressed ‘abstention’ buttons. The MPs from opposition Artarutyun and National Unity could secure only 20 votes in favor of the initiative.
Artarutyun faction secretary Victor Dallakian claimed after the ballot that with this step the parliamentary majority had reaffirmed its contribution to the organization of large-scale fraud during the referendum on constitutional amendments last November.
He said that if established, the commission would not only look into reported violations, but would also give a political assessment to what happened during the referendum and “oblige the country’s prosecutor-general to come to the parliament and give an account from its tribune.”
Parliament Speaker Artur Baghdasarian said that political assessments to the referendum had already been given and speaking of the legal aspect of the matter cited the answer to the letter he had addressed to the prosecutor-general over the handling of the referendum: “Four criminal cases have been instituted; in one case there is a court verdict on the offender’s six-month imprisonment.”
MP Hmayak Hovannisian not affiliated with any faction thinks that not only offenders but also mechanisms of fraud and violations must be exposed. “There is no guarantee that the same mechanisms will not be employed in the 2007 and 2008 elections,” he warned his colleagues.
MP from Democratic Party of Armenia (HZhK) Grigor Harutiunian protested government interference in what he believes to be the parliament’s affair. “It is insulting when the government tells the parliament what to do in such a matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister David Harutiunian, who presented the government’s negative positions on this matter last Friday, said to RFE/RL today: “The government can express its position on any issue. And this is exactly what we did. It was a political decision of the government to give a negative assessment of the initiative, because politically, we consider it not advisable to set up such a commission.”