Armenian Constitutional Court Proposes Referendum on Adopting New Amendmen’s

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress)–Felix Tokhian of the Armenian Constitutional Court announced during a press conference held on February 6 that the proposed amendmen’s to the constitution aim at securing the particularity of the branches of government. He added that the package of amendmen’s proposed will probably be voted on at a referendum to be held sometime in 2002. Tokhian said that the president’s position as head of state is upheld in the proposed amendmen’s. He feels the president is not as close to the government and that too much power lies in the hands of the prime minister and government in general. The president would retain the right to appoint his prime minister–however if the minister’s governing policy does not win the support of parliament–then the parliament should have the right to put forward the candidacy of a new prime minister. In the case where the parliament fails to nominate a candidate during a two-week period–the president will appoint the prime minister and abolish parliament. According to the proposed amendmen’s the president retains the right to abolish parliament. The parliament too can impeach the president with a two-thirds vote.

Tokhian stressed the importance of making the constitution the guarantor of the independence of Armenia’s courts. At present–the constitution designates the president to be the guarantor of this independence.

As for the justice council–the new amendment proposes seven members to be elected–with only three being appointed by the president. It is also proposed that the constitutional courts remain the form where conflicts between the different branches of government can be resolved.

According to the new amendmen’s–the army will have a neutral position and secularism will remain a principal–taking into consideration the historic role and the mission of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Capital punishment will be enforced only in cases involving war or threats of war.

Tokhian said the reason for the referendum being held next year as opposed to this year is due to political forces not willing to accept some of the proposed amendmen’s.

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