YEREVAN—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) will not support the Armenian government’s proposed constitutional reforms if its amendments are not accepted, the ARF’s leadership announced Friday.
“If our demands are not met, the constitutional reform will be meaningless,” says ARF member of parliament Artsvik Minasyan.
The ARF knows that if they leave reforms to the constitution to take place at the discretion of the ruling Republican party, every step will be taken to strengthen that party’s rule in Armenia. At present, Minasyan says it is not an option for Serzh Sarkisian to remain in power past 2018..
“They say that the acting president will become speaker of parliament. In 2017, he will still be heading the country, which means that in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, if of course they are held normally, the country’s president cannot resign office to assume a post in parliament. Even if he does, we shall witness the opposite: the formation of a parliamentary republic,” he says.
ARF has submitted its proposals to the government which exclude Serzh Sarkisian’s participation in the decision-making process of the future government. They also take measures to exclude election rigging and corruption, putting primary emphasis on human rights.
“The Constitution must not only declare and recognize the existence of basic fundamental human rights and freedoms, but must also determine mechanisms for their monitoring and protection, including the obligations of responsible authorities, who must ensure the realization of citizens’ rights,” says Minasyan.
Minasyan says Armenia’s other major opposition parties should seek to have their amendments incorporated into a final constitutional reform proposal before completely rejecting constitutional reforms out of hand.
“Today, the authorities say they want to change the system. Instead of posing our demands to them and forcing them to meet them, we put their intention under question and oppose the initiative. This is not a smart approach.”
A preliminary concept of the constitutional reform suggests that it aims to create a traditional parliamentary republic, with a strong prime minister and a largely ceremonial presidency.