The four minority factions in the Armenian parliament have effectively scuttled plans for a special session sought by the ruling party to adopt a resolution calling for political tranquility and dialogue in the wake of last month’s disputed presidential elections.
The Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) whose leader Serzh Sarkisian was officially reelected as president in the February 18 ballot has drafted a statement urging all political parties and civil society groups in Armenia to work for a dialogue to defuse the ongoing tensions.
The HHK-authored document also mentions the possibility of ‘constructive discussions’ on constitutional reforms and ways of improving the electoral system – only two of many demands being advanced to Sarkisian by his top challenger Raffi Hovannisian.
Hovannisian, who claims victory in last month’s presidential election, led street protests for several weeks before going on a hunger strike in a central Yerevan square on March 10 threatening to thwart Sarkisian’s swearing-in ceremony slated for April 9. As a compromise solution the oppositionist demands snap parliamentary elections, sweeping changes in the election laws as well as a number of key positions in the future government.
The HHK, which has regarded negotiations with Hovannisian’s Heritage Party in the National Assembly as part of efforts to provide a solution to the ongoing crisis, meant to enlist the support of all groups before calling a special session to adopt the declaration.
The refusal of the minority factions to support the text, however, has called into question the very idea of such a gathering.
In substantiating their positions, the four parties criticized the HHK for drafting what they described as a declarative statement that fails to offer specific solutions.
“The text proposed by the majority is unacceptable for us. This is a declaration of good wishes rather than a road map on how the parliament should act within its powers to overcome this situation and resolve this major problem facing the country,” Naira Zohrabian, the secretary of the second largest parliamentary faction of the Prosperous Armenia Party, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am).
Zohrabian said that in drafting the statement the HHK also failed to consider their proposal regarding a transition to an all-proportional system of parliamentary representation.
The suggestions of two other minority factions, Dashnaktsutyun and Heritage, have not been taken into account either, the parliamentary leader of Heritage, Ruben Hakobian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am).
Both factions had also called for a major electoral reform as well as an opposition role in oversight bodies.
Hakobian ridiculed the HHK’s position according to which a special session of parliament on the post-election situation could be called only if all factions agreed to back the text of a certain statement.
“This has nothing to do with parliamentarianism,” he said. “And this statement that they proposed is just something that tells you nothing.”
The opposition Armenian National Congress also spoke against the draft, suggesting its own version of the statement that also calls for changes in election laws being sought by the opposition. It also demands that parliamentary hearings be held on the matter of ‘restoring constitutional order’ in Armenia by way of holding early presidential and parliamentary elections.
HHK faction head Galust Sahakian, for his part, argued that the minority factions had differences over the statement not only with the ruling party, but also amongst themselves. He acknowledged that such differences called into question the prospect of a common approach to the post-election situation and hence of a special parliament session with this issue on the agenda.