Parliament Approves Proposed Constitutional Reforms Opposition Exits pre Vote

YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Armenpress)–With a vote of 92 to 1 and no abstentions–Armenian parliament approved on Wednesday the first reading of 18 revised as well as new articles to the Constitution.

Lawmakers from opposition Ardarutyun (Justice) bloc and National Unity vetoed the vote. They had indicted on Tuesday that they would reject the draft because their proposals were turned down.

Following speeches by the opposition’s leadership–there was a collective walkout of the more than two dozen parliamentarians affiliated with the two opposition groups. They suspended their 18-month boycott of parliament sessions on Monday to attend the debate broadcast live by state television.

The Armenian opposition decided to reject the draft amendmen’s despite the fact they are supported by the Council of Europe–the European Union and the United States–who say constitutional reform would result in a more effective system of checks and balances among Armenia’s branches of government.

Adoption of the proposed reforms is expected in the second and final readings scheduled for Thursday and September 11 respectively.

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