Armenian politician predicts dissolution of parliament, government

Aravot web site, Yerevan
30 Aug 04

If the ruling coalition does not strip opposition MPs of their
mandates, President Robert Kocharyan will dissolve the National
Assembly and sack the government, the leader of the Democratic Party of
Armenia, Aram Sarkisyan, has told the Aravot paper. The following is
an excerpt from report entitled "Stripping MPs of mandates is a trial
balloon" posted on Armenian newspaper Aravot web site on 30 August:

The leader of the Democratic Party believes that Armenia is just one
step away from an "authoritarian, criminal and oligarchic system".

"The public is no longer protesting against injustice and
arbitrariness. Next the following will happen: Robert Kocharyan
will dissolve the government as he is fed up with infighting in the
coalition, the distribution of spheres according to party affiliation
and so on. We shall again return to the appointment of ministers on
the strength of their professional qualities.

"However, to do this, a formal reason is required. This move will
be possible if the coalition votes against stripping the opposition
MPs of their mandates. The situation will then become critical which
will provide grounds for dissolving the parliament. The next National
Assembly will represent a gathering of 'cronies' which suits Kocharyan
very well.

"If everybody in the country keeps silent when (a former head of the
Credit-Yerevan Bank) Levon Markos states that officials misappropriated
50m dollars, cites facts of corruption and accuses the defence
minister, yet nothing happens, this manifests that our society is
seriously ill and that those who have taken the responsibility for
ruling the country have turned us into idiots," the DPA leader said.

At one point, when information was leaked that the National Assembly
and the government would be dissolved, the prime minister immediately
said that he would defect to the opposition and the speaker hinted at
the possibility of starting the process of impeaching the president. At
that time, Robert Kocharyan through his press secretary was compelled
to issue a statement that no changes were expected.

On the basis of what Aram Sarkisyan claims that Kocharyan, for fear
of losing his political support, can resort to the dissolution of
the legislative and executive bodies?

"[Prime Minister] Andranik Markaryan and [Speaker] Artur Bagdasaryan
made a big mistake by stating prematurely that they would switch
to the opposition if they were relieved of their posts. Kocharyan
started to think about how to neutralize a possible threat and decided
to bring the punitive bodies up to the level they are at present. To
the incumbent president, the notion of 'political support' is double
Dutch, he does not understand what it is. Why should he want political
support if he can simply use the services of oligarchs' bodyguards?,"
Sarkisyan said.

Aram Sarkisyan did not rule out the possibility that not all the
opposition MPs will be stripped of their mandates at once, but rather
two or three of them, and the rest will be compelled to surrender
their powers. [Passage omitted.]

Speaking about the return of the opposition MPs to parliament,
Sarkisyan recalled that the reasons for the political boycott
had still not been removed: the amendments to law "On referendum"
are not being debated, those guilty of lawlessness have not been
brought to book, and the preliminary investigation into the criminal
case against the [opposition] Justice bloc has been extended for
another two months. "None of the points in the Council of Europe's
resolution has been honoured," the DPA leader said, adding: "If the
coalition in the course of negotiations assumes responsibility for
honouring these important conditions, we shall have reason to return
to parliament. However, I am convinced that nothing depends on the
coalition parties. Everything is at will of one man."