Armenian law reserves a quarter of those positions for the second largest parliamentary force, the Hayastan alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian. Hayastan ceded one of them to the Pativ Unem bloc, the other opposition group represented in the National Assembly elected on June 20.
The ruling Civil Contract party, which has a solid majority in the parliament, gave the three candidates nominated by the opposition minority enough votes to become committee chairs. By contrast, only a handful of Hayastan and/or Pativ Unem deputies appeared to have voted for some committee chairs nominated by Civil Contract.
The two rival camps criticized and even attacked each other’s candidates during debates that preceded the secret ballots. Some of their members nearly came to blows on Wednesday.
Senior deputies representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s party will chair nine standing committees. Those include the committees on defense and security, foreign relations, legal affairs and European integration.
Two other panels dealing with economic issues and “regional and Eurasian integration” will be headed by Hayastan’s Vahe Hakobian and Armen Gevorgian respectively.
Gevorgian was an influential aide to Kocharian during the former president’s decade-long rule. He served as deputy prime minister from 2008-2014.
Pativ Unem’s Taguhi Tovmasian was elected chairwoman of the parliament committee on human rights. Tovmasian edited a major Armenian newspaper before joining the Pashinian-led My Step alliance and becoming a member of the country’s former parliament in December 2018. She defected from My Step in December 2020
Tovmasian said that one of her first actions in her new capacity will be to visit two Hayastan parliamentarians controversially arrested last month on what the parliamentary opposition regards as politically motivated charges.
The opposition says that they are held in detention in violation of the Armenian constitution which stipulates that “a deputy may not be deprived of liberty without the consent of the National Assembly.” Prosecutors and leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority maintain, however, that they do not enjoy immunity from prosecution because they were indicted before formally becoming parliament deputies.