Parliamentary Faction to Begin Regular Briefings

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Upon the initiative of National Assembly Speaker Khosrov Haroutiunian–parliamentary factions and caucuses will hold weekly briefings on Thursdays. The first of such briefings was held on April 16 by representatives of the Hanrapetutiun faction–the Communist faction–the National Democratic Union–the Self-Determination Union–and the parliamentary faction of the Yerkrapah battalion.

Vigen Khachatrian–Hanrapetutiun representative and author of one of the three proposed electoral laws–explained that his version of the law is a bid to embrace the whole spectrum of problems. Breaches committed in the election process must never be ignored but stopped or at least minimized by law stipulating concrete measures of punishment for each concrete violation–he said. He stated that parts of the Armenian Constitution need amendment. However–he added–since system changes may present serious shocks for the country–such amendmen’s should not be attempted.

Khachatrian suggested that serious discussions be held prior to amending the Constitution. He urged that authors of the country’s Basic Law also be invited to attend the discussions.

Communist faction leader Sergey Badalian stated that the National Assembly should not be dissolved until it adopts a new election code–carries through the judicial reforms and amen’s the Constitution.

"Today’s Parliament does not reflect the real line-up of political forces in the country. The National Assembly has degenerated into a committee adopting government-proposed bills. Alas–there is no law-making in Parliament," said Badalian. According to the Communist leader–it is more advisable that early parliamentary elections be held this fall. Badalian also reported that his party will offer its own package of amendmen’s to be introduced into the Constitution.

NDU faction representative Shavarsh Kocharyan said that his faction will be actively involved in debates over a new election code and will offer its opinions and observations. He said that the NDU endorses Yegorian’s version–however–he suggested that elections alone cannot settle issues with power in Armenia:

"Our country is ill; it is suffering from authoritarianism with all the ensuing consequences. We can keep producing new mechanisms to preventing violations–but the machine of violations and fraud is growing more and more sophisticated–too. A correct diagnosis is needed," said Kocharyan. The NDU representative also spoke in support of holding early parliamentary elections–but he said they are unlikely to be held. According to Kocharyan–the NDU will also offer its package of amendmen’s regarding the Constitution.

Thus–NDU advocated Parliamentary Rule. "Though–we are realists and understand that this variant won’t work. In making election pledges President Robert Kocharian also promised to see that the Constitution is amended. Well–let’s see how realizable these pledges turn out. We view the planned amendmen’s as half measures–and–yet–the NDU is ready to endorse them," said Shavarsh Kocharyan.

SDU faction leader Baruyr Hairikian also considered the Yegorian-proposed election law the best among the three. He approved of holding early parliamentary elections–but only after the current parliament adopts a new election code and realizes the judicial reforms. At the same time–Hairikian noted that his party will not get involved in the executive branch as long as parliament does not reflect the real alignment of political forces in the country. Hairikian mentioned that he has no differences with President Robert Kocharian over the issue of scheduled amendmen’s to the Constitution. The SDU leader said that President Kocharian had offered him the position of presidential advisor on issues of judicial reforms. Hairikian is still considering the offer.

Yerkrapah representative Razmik Martirossian also stated the necessity of adopting a new election law and introducing amendmen’s to the Constitution. Martirossian made it clear that they do not consider early parliamentary elections of great significance.

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