Less than two weeks after being elected member of the Constitutional Court Armenia’s ex-Minister of Justice Hrair Tovmasian has been named as a candidate for the post of the Court’s chairman.
The nomination of the 47-year-old co-author of Armenia’s Basic Law was made on Tuesday by Armenian Parliament Speaker Ara Babloyan.
Earlier, Babloyan terminated the powers of Gagik Harutiunian as chairman of the Constitutional Court following his resignation and election as Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, a new body established under Armenia’s reformed Constitution.
The post of the chairman of the Constitutional Court has become vacant before April 9, which means that the 2015 Constitution will not apply to the election of the new chairman. Accordingly, under the 2005 Constitution, it is the National Assembly that will elect the new chairman of the Constitutional Court within a period of 30 days.
If the elections were to be held in accordance with the Constitution reformed in 2015, the Constitutional Court would elect its chairman from among its judges for a period of six years without the right to be re-elected. Meanwhile, under the provisions of the Basic Law passed in 2005, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, who shall be elected by the National Assembly, will serve until he or she attains the age of 65.
Artak Zeinalian, a member of the parliament’s opposition Yelk faction, thinks that the authors of the Constitution, including Tovmasian himself, have foreseen such a development. “The goal is to ensure that Tovmasian will serve as chairman of the Constitutional Court until 2035 when he turns 65. Formally, there seems to be no problem... But I think that with this trick the logic of the new Constitution is blocked. Under the new Constitution, the members of the Constitutional Court are replaceable and a more democratic mechanism is to be applied. But I think this was done specifically to neutralize it and for the chairman of the Constitutional Court to carry out the political will of the political majority. That is, it was done so as to turn the Constitutional Court into a politicized body,” he charged.
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, meanwhile, said that it is “quite logical” that the norm supposed to be applied before April 9 will be applied in the election of the new chairman of the Constitutional Court.
“I believe that Tovmasian is the person who can be a worthy successor to Gagik Harutiunian,” he concluded.
The election of the new chairman of the Constitutional Court by secret ballot will take place at the National Assembly during the four-day session commencing on March 20.