The leadership of the National Assembly affiliated with the party has increasingly threatened in recent weeks to ask the Constitutional Court to take such action. It was due to discuss the matter at a meeting slated for Thursday evening.
“We have decided not to start such a process at this stage,” Hrachya Hakobian, a Civil Contract lawmaker, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service hours before the scheduled meeting.
“But we don’t exclude that one day we will again discuss stripping them of their mandates,” he said. “I don’t exclude that the [ruling party’s parliamentary] faction will once again organize a discussion on this issue in September or October.”
Hakobian, who is also Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s brother-in-law, said the parliament’s pro-government majority is giving the opposition lawmakers another chance to return to the parliament.
One of those lawmakers, Gegham Manukian, dismissed the explanation, saying that the Armenian authorities simply want to avoid another blow to their democratic credentials.
“I presume that some smart guy, who is definitely not a parliament deputy, told them, ‘Guys you are going way over the top, disgracing the country, destroying the last ruins of our democratic bastion,’ and that’s why they came out with such a statement,” he said.
The 35 members of the 107-seat parliament representing the opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances began the boycott in April in advance of their daily demonstrations demanding Pashinian’s resignation. One of their leaders made clear on Monday that they will continue their boycott and hold more antigovernment rallies in the weeks ahead.
Under Armenian law, a parliament deputy can lose their seat if they skip, for “non-legitimate” reasons, at least half of parliament votes during a single semi-annual session of the National Assembly. The final decision to that effect is to be made by the Constitutional Court.
The parliament’s leadership said earlier this week all 29 deputies representing Hayastan and four others affiliated with Pativ Unem can now be formally accused of absenteeism.