An Armenian lawmaker critical of the government has slammed other opposition members of parliament for not supporting his initiative to impeach President Serzh Sarkisian that failed earlier this week.
This is the second time within less than three months that the Armenian National Congress (HAK) refuses to back the motion drafted by Nikol Pashinian, a former member of this opposition grouping who is now only formally affiliated with its parliamentary faction.
The 131-member parliament dominated by Sarkisian loyalists voted 68 to 4 on Monday to kill the resolution. Members of the second largest parliamentary faction, Prosperous Armenia, boycotted the session and did not take part in the vote.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) on Tuesday, Pashinian slammed the HAK’s approach, describing it as “jugglery”.
Levon Zurabian, the leader of the HAK faction, said on Monday that the Pashinian-drafted resolution was weak and did not contain any strong arguments in favor of impeaching the current head of state. He claimed that voting for it would mean doing a favor to Sarkisian.
“The process has not been prepared either politically or legally and such a weak document would be a gift to Sarkisian as it would create an impression that there are no serious grounds for his impeachment,” the HAK’s parliamentary leader said.
The Pashinian resolution refers to as many as 10 instances of Sarkisian’s purported violations of law, including his controversial decision in 2009 to dissolve a fact-finding group of experts probing the previous year’s post-election violence.
Pashinian, who set up his own political group called Civil Contract in 2013, said his motion cited some of the grounds for Sarkisian’s impeachment that were already declared by the HAK still in 2011.
“Even if one of these points is well-founded and the rest are not, it is possible to impeach Sarkisian. This is what the law says,” Pashinian explained, accusing the other opposition lawmakers who did not support the initiative of “foul play”.
Earlier, the Sarkisian-led ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) repeatedly dismissed the opposition claims that there are any legal grounds for impeaching the head of state.
Given the majority that the HHK holds in the Armenian National Assembly, even a consolidated minority vote would not be enough to pass the bill.