Constitutional Court Asked to End Parliament Impasse

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Leading Armenian parties–locked in a dispute over the resignation of parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian–turned on Monday to the Constitutional Court for a solution to the continuing parliamentary deadlock.

Gagik Aslanian–one of Khachatrian’s two deputies and a fellow member of the People’s Party of Armenia–agreed to sign the parliament’s decision accepting the speaker’s resignation on the condition that it be sent to the Court for legal examination.

The People’s Party has insisted that the resignation was not formally approved by the National Assembly because insufficient number of deputies voted for it last week. Khachatrian refused to quit after the controversial vote–provoking accusations from the governing Republican Party and other groups that he illegally clings to his post.

The resignation decision was forwarded to the Constitutional Court by President Robert Kocharian shortly after it was signed by Aslanian. Khachatrian was absent from his office on Monday. Parliament officials said he was ill.

Meanwhile–leaders of the Republican Party and five other parliamentary parties continued their consultations on the formation of a new parliament leadership–meeting in Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s residence later in the day. Tigran Torosian–a senior Republican and one of the main candidates for the post of speaker–told RFE/RL that "the representation of political forces in the National Assembly must not be disregarded."

The 25-strong Republican Party faction is the biggest in the 131-member parliament but needs the support of other parties to ensure a stable majority for the government. Khachatrian’s replacement may lead to a reshuffle in Markarian’s cabinet.

President Robert Kocharian has already applied to the Constitutional Court on the issue "of constitutionality of the National Assembly decision made on September 26," the presidential press service told Noyan Tapan.

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