Presidential Commission On Constitutional Reform Disbanded

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian on Tuesday dissolved his ad hoc commission tasked with drafting constitutional amendmen’s but said he will form a new and smaller group shortly.

The commission was formed one year ago and comprised government officials–lawyers and representatives of several pro-Kocharian parties. Kocharian said the new commission–to be composed of legal experts only–will submit a package of proposals to be presented to the National Assembly by next October.

The current Armenian constitution adopted in 1995 gives sweeping powers to the head of state and many political parties say they should be curtailed in parliament’s favor. However–most of the proposals already made by the consultative body call for no reduction of the presidential authority–a fact admitted on Wednesday by chief of Kocharian’s legal service–Vrezh Gasparian.

Parliament speaker Karen Demirchian–who was one of Kocharian’s main opponents until recently–has said he too will set up a constitutional commission. Demirchian favors a greater role for the legislature. Some political analysts saw the move as a prelude to a possible power struggle between the two men next autumn.

Gasparian said the National Assembly "can make alternative proposals to the president" but shrugged off speculations about an impending confrontation between the two government branches. "Together with the National Assembly–we will try to agree on a compromise variant that would reflect the interests of the parliament–president and the people," he told RFE/RL.

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