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Armenian Speaker Confident Of Referendum Win


Armenia -- Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (C) chairs a parliament debate on constitutional changes, Yerevan, February 6, 2020.

Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan expressed confidence on Monday that Armenia’s political leadership will win the upcoming referendum on its bid to oust most Constitutional Court judges.

To pass, corresponding constitutional amendments drafted by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc have to be backed by a majority of referendum participants making up at least one-quarter of Armenia’s 2.57 million or so eligible voters.

Mirzoyan, who is a close associate of Pashinian, insisted that the authorities’ possible failure to garner around 650,000 votes needed for a referendum victory is not a “realistic” scenario.

“I believe that the referendum will take place [as planned on April 5] and citizens of the Republic of Armenia will deliver a sufficient number of votes in favor of the proposed changes,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Mirzoyan dismissed suggestions that even for many government supporters Constitutional Court Chairman Hrayr Tovmasian’s ouster will not be enough of an incentive to turn out and vote on April 5.

“It’s not about Hrayr Tovmasian,” he said. “There are many more layers and in-depth nuances connected with this issue.”

The ruling political team says that Tovmasian and six other judges of the 9-member Constitutional Court must go because they are linked to Armenia’s “corrupt former regime.” Critics say that that Pashinian is simply keen to replace them by judges that would be loyal to him.

The country’s leading opposition groups have denounced the referendum as unconstitutional. At the same time they have decided not to actively campaign against the draft amendments.

Although campaigning for the vote officially began on February 17 My Step has held no rallies or in-door gatherings so far. Mirzoyan said it will launch its campaign for a “Yes” vote at a fundraiser that will be held in Yerevan on Tuesday.

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