Parliament Establishes Post-Election Probe Commission

YEREVAN (Combined)–Armenia’s National Assembly on Monday voted unanimously in favor of setting up an ad hoc commission tasked with a parliamentary investigation into the March 1-2 deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

The commission will include two parliament deputies from each faction and one independent deputy. In its final form it will thus include at least eight pro-government lawmakers and two opposition representatives.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc will be represented by Artashes Shahbazyan and Ardzvik Minasyan.

At a briefing Monday, Shahbazyan said that the fact that parties not represented in parliament can take part in the commission will go a long way to defuse talk that all efforts undertaken by the government are fake.

Shahbazyan also emphasized the importance of the formation of a public committee, known as the Public Chamber. He said such a structure would greatly enhance Armenia’s democratization process, and warned that attempts to undermine this effort would greatly hurt Armenia’s statehood.

The newly established commission, which is due to present its conclusion to the National Assembly by October 25, held its first meeting later on Monday electing Republican Samvel Nikoyan as its chairman (the vice-chairman’s position is reserved for a Heritage representative). The commission is expected to make an offer to Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosian and other political groups not represented in the National Assembly to name representatives to the commission, but these representatives will not have voting rights, however.

The parliament opposition represented by the Heritage faction opted out of the vote and was not even present at the chamber at the time of voting.

The commission must present a report to the Parliament by October 25.

The parliament also elected the independent parliamentarian who will be included in the commission. With 87 for and one abstaining, Lyoa Khachatrian was elected the member of the commission.

In another development, President Serzh Sarkisian signed into law on Monday the legislative amendmen’s abolishing some of the serious restrictions on freedom of assembly which were imposed during a 20-day emergency rule in capital Yerevan following the suppression of post-election opposition protests. Abolishing the restrictions was also one of the deman’s of the PACE Resolution.

According to Sarkisian’s press office, the law will become effective the next day after its publication in the “Republic of Armenia Official Newsletter”.

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