Opposition Boycotts Vote on ‘Referendum of Confidence’

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Yerkir)–The National Assembly voted on Monday to turn down an April 16–2003 recommendation by the Constitutional Court to amend the Law on Referendum–and conduct a "referendum of confidence" in President Kocharian.

Just before their motion for a debate on legal amendmen’s–the National assembly’s opposition Ardarutiun bloc–the Azgayin Miapunutiun party faction–about two dozen opposition deputies boycotted the vote and left the National Assembly hall in protest.

Only five lawmakers voted for it in their absence–while as many as 80 others voted against.

Majority leaders said the idea has no legal and political basis and does not even merit a discussion on the parliament floor. "We had elections only several months ago and we see no need to keep up tensions," said parliament speaker Arthur Baghdasarian.

The majority reiterated that the Constitutional Court’s post election suggestion for a referendum is non-binding–and does not stem from Armenia’s basic law. The parliamentary leader of the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation Levon Mkrtchian–said such a vote would be unconstitutional because Kocharian is a legitimately reelected president.

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