The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has threatened to scuttle the plans of the opposition to hold a special meeting of parliament on a raft of amendments to election laws by affecting the quorum in the chamber.
At a news briefing in the National Assembly on Friday Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the HHK, which together with its coalition partner, Orinats Yerkir, holds over half of the seats in the 131-member legislative body, said that they would not engage in the “senseless activities” proposed by the minority factions.
He described the move initiated by the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and supported by three other minority groups in parliament the previous day as an attempt to boost their political activity in the run-up to next year’s presidential election, something that he suggested his party didn’t have the need of.
The HAK’s seven-member faction said on Thursday it had secured the signatures of more than a third of deputies with support coming from lawmakers representing the Prosperous Armenia Party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the Free Democrats and Heritage parties. The law requires that at least 44 lawmakers support the motion on calling a special session.
Levon Zurabian, the head of the HAK parliamentary faction, said they wanted the meeting scheduled for November 21 to focus on amendments to the Electoral and Criminal Codes as well as the Law on the State Registration of the Population, which he said will be instrumental in preventing fraud during the next presidential election scheduled for February.
The opposition, in particular, suggests that citizens of Armenia who are absent from the republic for more than six months be excluded from the electoral rolls. It claims the presence of up to 700,000 such citizens helped the government commit electoral fraud and secure a landslide victory in last May’s parliamentary election.
Earlier, senior HAK lawmaker Eduard Sharmazanov also described the opposition’s initiative as a “political show” and warned that it may fail to gather quorum in parliament.
“I don’t think that the opposition’s agenda will be backed by 66 deputies, which is the requirement of the law,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) late on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the HAK’s Zurabian said that attempts by the HHK to scuttle the November 21 session will once again reveal the party’s “true face”.
Another senior HAK representative Hrant Bagratian added that failure by HHK lawmakers to attend the session will be a “disgrace” for their party.
“I don’t think it is right and becoming of the Republican Party,” he said.
BHK lawmaker Naira Zohrabian, for her part, said: “If they find that even discussing this draft legislation is so terrifying, then I have no words.”