Armenian Constitutional Package Finalized

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Gagik Harutyunyan, chairman of a presidential commission on constitutional reform, and Vartan Poghosian, a commission member, at a press conference in Yerevan in May, 2015 (Source: Photolure)

Gagik Harutyunyan, chairman of a presidential commission on constitutional reform, and Vartan Poghosian, a commission member, at a press conference in Yerevan in May, 2015 (Source: Photolure)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—An ad hoc commission formed by President Serzh Sarkissian has finalized its package of draft constitutional amendments that envisage Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary system of government.

A member of the commission, former Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Friday that the draft will be sent to Sarkissian later in the day. Danielian said it has undergone some changes aimed at addressing concerns voiced by legal experts from the Council of Europe. He declined to specify them.

While largely approving the document as a whole, Council of Europe’s Venice Commission objected late last month to one of the proposed amendments meant to ensure that parliamentary elections in Armenia always produce a clear winner controlling most parliament seats. They also criticized several other provisions relating to the Armenian judiciary.

Danielian said that experts from the Venice Commission would visit Yerevan early next week for further talks on the issue with Armenian officials and civil society members.

Those talks could coincide with Sarkissian’s final consultations with political parties that support the constitutional reform package, or at least have not rejected it outright. Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said late on Thursday that the consultations will start by the end of this month.

Sarkissian is expected to send the draft amendments to parliament following the consultation. The amendments will be put on a referendum, likely in November, after being debated and almost certainly rubber-stamped by the National Assembly.

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