Pashinian called for major changes to the Armenian constitution last year. He has since made conflicting statements about which articles of the constitution he believes should be amended.
Pashinian said about a year ago that his administration will consider restoring the presidential system of government. But he stated last month that Armenia should remain a parliamentary republic.
The constitutional reform process will be coordinated by a special council that will be headed by Justice Minister Karen Andreasian and mostly consist of other state officials. Other council members are to be nominated by non-governmental organizations, the three political forces represented in the Armenian parliament and two other political parties.
The council will in turn choose five legal scholars who will be tasked with drafting constitutional amendments.
The two opposition alliances holding seats in the National Assembly, Hayastan and Pativ Unem, confirmed on Friday that they will boycott the work of the council.
Hayastan’s top leader, former President Robert Kocharian, rejected the changes planned by Pashinian during a recent news conference.
“I don’t think that every government should write up a constitution to its liking after taking office,” he said.
Pativ Unem’s Hayk Mamijanian saw ulterior motives behind Pashinian’s desire to amend the constitution.
“This is a false agenda which is first and foremost aimed at finding a new way of prolonging the capitulator regime’s rule,” Mamijanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
One of Pativ Unem’s leaders, former President Serzh Sarkisian, faced similar accusations when he engineered Armenia’s transition to the parliamentary system through sweeping constitutional changes enacted in 2015.
Sarkisian’s attempt to remain in power as prime minister after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018 sparked mass protests that brought Pashinian to power.
Tigran Dadunts, an official from the Armenian Ministry of Justice, suggested that the constitutional reform council will discuss the wisdom of changing the country’s existing government system. But Dadunts noted in this regard that another constitutional task force formed by Pashinian in 2019 decided against recommending a return to the presidential model.
The task force was disbanded after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.