Armenian law entitles opposition parliamentarians to heading three of those 12 committees. It stipulates that the deputy chairpersons of several other parliamentary panels should also represent the opposition minority in the National Assembly.
The main opposition Hayastan alliance nominated one of its deputies, Artur Ghazinian, as deputy head of the parliament committee on defense and security. The nominee was also backed by the Pativ Unem bloc, the second parliamentary opposition force.
However, most members of the committee representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party voted against Ghazinian’s appointment after a 90-minute discussion of his candidacy.
The committee’s pro-government chairman, Andranik Kocharian, accused Ghazinian of throwing a plastic bottle towards Pashinian during a brawl that broke out on the parliament floor last week.
The opposition lawmaker, who was punched by other pro-Pashinian deputies during the brawl, insisted that he acted in self-defense and did not aim the bottle at the prime minister.
“No person, no official was targeted by me. I simply sent back the bottle that struck me,” he said.
Ghazarian told reporters after the ensuing committee vote that he was rebuffed because the parliamentary majority wants to see a more “convenient” oppositionist take up the post. “I would not be a deputy chairman of their heart,” he said.
Under the parliamentary statutes, Hayastan has five days to again nominate Ghazinian or propose another candidate.
Gegham Manukian, another Hayastan lawmaker, said the opposition bloc led by former President Robert Kocharian will discuss the matter within that time frame. “There is no decision yet,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.