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Opposition Bloc To Continue ‘Partial’ Boycott Of Parliament

By Astghik Bedevian

Armenia’s largest opposition alliance, Artarutyun, said on Monday that it will not after all fully end its 18-month boycott of parliament sessions despite expectations to the contrary.

“We will participate in the discussion of only those bills that are very important for the public,” one of its leaders, Victor Dallakian, told reporters after a meeting of the bloc’s 13-strong parliament faction. “If there are deputies who will deem necessary to attend a debate on a particular issue they see as important, the faction will not object.”

Dallakian and other Artarutyun deputies said earlier that the bloc will likely put a permanent end to the boycott and use the parliament for attacking the ruling regime. But two deputies representing the most radical of the nine parties making up Artarutyun insist that they will not enter the National Assembly under any circumstances.

The other opposition group represented in the assembly, the National Unity Party (AMK), officially announced the end of its boycott at the weekend. Its leader Artashes Geghamian said he and eight other AMK deputies will attend parliament sessions to campaign against President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments and press their case for fresh presidential and parliamentary elections in Armenia.

Geghamian claimed that the AMK’s and Artarutyun’s decision to suspend the boycott and attend the recent parliament debates on constitutional debates, broadcast live by state television, resulted in a serious public relations setback for the authorities. “The people once again saw what this National Assembly is worth when the opposition does not take part in its sessions,” he said.

The more than two dozen deputies representing the Artarutyun bloc and the AMK walked out of the National Assembly in February 2004 after its pro-presidential majority refused to consider calling a “referendum of confidence” in Kocharian. Majority leaders have since repeatedly urged the opposition minority to return to the parliament.

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