Constitutional Commission Proposes Stronger Veto Power for President

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The presidential commission on constitutional reform has proposed to make it more difficult for the Armenian parliament to overturn the president’s veto on its laws.

The commission–dominated by senior government officials–voted on Wednesday to include the provision in a package of constitutional amendmen’s to be submitted to parliament later this year–the presidential press service reported.

The decision envisages that the National Assembly would need a majority of two thirds–instead of a simple majority as now–to overcome a veto.

Under another amendment approved by the commission–the Armenian president would be allowed to dissolve parliament only in case of its "inactivity," based on a conclusion by the Constitutional Court. It does not specify–however–what the Court’s conclusion should be.

The basic law in its current form enables the president to dissolve the legislature practically at will–except during the first year of the National Assembly’s tenure and his last six months in office.

The commission moved to abolish the latter constraint.

The head of the body–presidential adviser Paruir Hayrikian–was quoted as saying that the proposed changes give parliament more powers and "create a real balance" between the executive and legislative branches.

The commission was set up last year by President Robert Kocharian–supposedly to curtail sweeping powers vested in him by the constitution.

However–it has refused to recommend a major change in Armenia’s constitutional order. It was the principle reason why leading opposition parties have boycotted the commission’s work.

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