Armenian law entitles opposition deputies to heading three of the parliament’s 12 standing 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 lawmakers, Artur Ghazinian, as deputy head of the parliament committee on defense and security. He was also backed by the Pativ Unem bloc, the second parliamentary opposition force.
Most members of the committee representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party blocked Ghazinian’s appointment on August 31. Hayastan responded by renominating him for the vacant post.
All seven pro-government deputies sitting on the 11-member committee again voted against Ghazinian. During a two-hour debate on his candidacy that preceded the vote he was grilled by them about his personal income declarations and anti-government statements made over the past year.
The committee chairman, Andranik Kocharian, cited Ghazinian’s “shameful” Facebook post that likened Pashinian to “serial killers” over the latter’s handling of last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ghazinian stood by his statement and continued to hold Pashinian responsible for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war that left at least 3,800 Armenian soldiers dead. He claimed after the vote that Pashinian and his political team do not want him to take up the parliament post because they believe he could hamper quick passage of controversial government bills.
One of Hayastan’s parliamentary leaders, Artsvik Minasian, told journalists that the bloc led by former President Robert Kocharian will nominate Ghazinian for a third time.
Civil Contract’s Vahagn Aleksanian made clear, meanwhile, that Ghazinian will not be elected as long as he sticks to his “condemnable” views.