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Armenian President Wants Power To Appoint High Court Judges


Armenia -- President Armen Sarkissian speaks at a meeting with members of a government commission on constitutional reform, Yerevan, July 7, 2020.

President Armen Sarkissian has said that he must be legally empowered to appoint, rather than nominate, three of the nine members of Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

Under the existing constitutional provisions that came into effect in 2018, the president of the republic, the government and the country’s judges each nominate three Constitutional Court justices who can then be confirmed or rejected by the Armenian parliament.

Sarkissian complained about this “ceremonial” power vested in the presidency when he met on Tuesday with several members of a government commission tasked with drafting new and sweeping amendments to the Armenian constitution.

“If you ask my opinion, the solution is very simple,” he said. “The president of the republic should appoint the three Constitutional Court members reserved for him.”

Sarkissian argued that as things now stand now, he may “endlessly” propose candidates not acceptable the parliament majority. He said this could potentially disrupt the work of the country’s highest court.

Both the current and former parliaments repeatedly rejected Constitutional Court justices nominated by Sarkissian in 2018 and 2019. Only one candidate proposed by the largely ceremonial head of state has been appointed by the National Assembly so far.

Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan disagreed on Wednesday with Sarkissian’s view on the issue. “I think that the existing mechanism [for the appointment of Constitutional Court judges] is quite good,” he told journalists.

Mirzoyan noted at the same time that the president can discuss the new power sought by him with the commission working on constitutional reform.

“What the president of the republic is proposing requires fresh constitutional changes,” he said. “As you know, there is a commission discussing and drafting possible constitutional changes, and I think that the president could officially or orally appeal to the commission.”

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