Gagik Tsarukian said on Wednesday that his opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) will not join the ruling My Step bloc in trying to oust the embattled chairman of the country’s Constitutional Court, Hrayr Tovmasian.
Senior My Step lawmakers drafted last month a parliamentary resolution urging the eight other members of the court to replace Tovmasian. It denounces, among other things, Tovmasian’s handling of Robert Kocharian’s appeals against the legality of coup charges brought against the former Armenian president.
The Constitutional Court partly accepted one of those appeals on September 4. It declared unconstitutional an article of the Armenian Code of Procedural Justice used against Kocharian.
The non-binding resolution needs to be backed by at least 80 members of the 132-seat National Assembly. My Step controls 88 parliament seats, making its passage all but a forgone conclusion.
The bloc led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has been trying to get the two other political groups represented in the parliament to also back it. One of them, the Bright Armenia Party (LHK), said late last month that its 18 deputies will vote for the measure.
Tsarukian said that he and the 25 other BHK deputies will not vote on the proposed measure because he believes that it is based on “very weak” legal grounds. He did not elaborate.
“It’s up to the Constitutional Court to decide [Tovmasian’s fate,]” Tsarukian told reporters. “Our parliamentary group has decided not to take part in that vote.”
Lilit Makunts, My Step’s parliamentary leader, criticized the BHK’s stance, saying that it is “incomprehensible.” She insisted that the ruling bloc has put forward “weighty” arguments in support of removing Tovmasian.
The 90-page resolution backed by the Armenian government accuses Tovmasian of committing serious procedural violations during the consideration of Kocharian’s appeal. It says the court chairman should not have dealt with the case also because of his personal ties to one of Kocharian’s lawyers and past membership in the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Pashinian attacked Tovmasian in July, saying that the latter was elected Constitutional Court chairman by the former parliament in March 2017 as a result of a dubious political deal cut with HHK leader and then President Serzh Sarkisian. Incidentally, BHK lawmakers voted against Tovmasian at the time.
Tovmasian will lose his post if at least six other Constitutional Court judges back the parliamentary resolution and vote against him.