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Armenian Constitutional Court Chooses New Head


Armenia -- Arman Dilanian, the newly elected president of the Constitutional Court, speaks to journalists, Yerevan, October 12, 2020

Armenia’s Constitutional Court elected its new chairman on Monday more than three months after the passage of controversial constitutional amendments that led to the ouster of its previous head, Hrayr Tovmasian.

Arman Dilanian was backed by six of the court’s nine judges. “I will do everything to ensure that we have a Constitutional Court fully trusted by the people,” he told reporters.

The amendments passed by the Armenian parliament in June called for the gradual resignation of seven court justices who were locked in a standoff with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s political team. Three of them had to resign with immediate effect. The amendments also required Tovmasian to quit as court chairman but remain a judge.

Tovmasian and the ousted judges consider their removal illegal and politically motivated. They have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to have them reinstated.

This did not stop the parliament controlled by Pashinian’s My Step bloc from electing three new court judges last month. One of them, Yervand Khundkarian, was the only candidate nominated for the post of court chairman later in September. Khundkarian failed to get elected, however.

Dilanian, who was appointed to the court in 2018, was the only candidate for the vacant position in the second Constitutional Court vote. He insisted as recently as two weeks ago that he does not want to succeed Tovmasian as court chairman.

“I am still of the same opinion,” Dilanian said on Monday. “As you can see, it’s not that I’m delighted with being elected Constitutional Court chairman because I can imagine how much responsibility [the post] carries and how much work awaits us in the future.”

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