Changes Ahead: Giving “flesh and blood” to the constitutional reform

Changes Ahead: Giving “flesh and blood” to the constitutional reform

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

The changes to the Constitution approved in the December 6 referendum drastically curb the powers of the president in favor of the National Assembly, turning Armenia into a parliamentary republic, but these amendments that concern the form of government will be taking effect gradually.

First, applied will be the most important provisions of the Constitution – the first three chapters related to the basic principles of governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as guarantees in the economic, social and cultural fields and main public policy goals.

The first three chapters, as well as Part 2 of Article 103, which refers to the order of the adoption of laws by the National Assembly, chapter 9 (with the exception of certain provisions of Article 180) and chapter 10, which concern local government bodies and the ombudsman, will be enacted the day after the publication of the amended Constitution in the “Official Gazette of the Republic of Armenia”.

Addressing senior government officials and political figures on Monday, President Serzh Sargsyan said there was a great deal of legislative work ahead necessitated by the passage of the amendments. He said this work is needed to give “flesh and blood” to the reform approved by the people.

“The constitutional reform must be adequately reflected in the legal system of the Republic of Armenia. A number of statutory laws must be adopted, changes should be made in hundreds of laws,” he said.

It is alongside this legislation that portions of the amended Constitution related to government institutions will be gradually implemented. The National Assembly is expected to bring the current laws in conformity with the amended Constitution within a “reasonable time frame” and the entire process should be completed by the time Sargsyan is to leave his current office in April 2018.

The amended Electoral Code, for example, is expected to come into force from June 1, 2016, and with it applied will be the constitutional provisions on the work of the Central Election Commission.

“We are prepared for the most open and comprehensive discussions in all possible formats so that eventually we adopt a new, best Election Code. We are ready to discuss any mechanism ensuring transparency and confidence. I hope that our opponents will accept this invitation and jointly with us will get down to important work,” said Sargsyan, adding that only this will enable the country to have the next parliamentary elections held in an atmosphere of greater trust.

The new constitutional regulations concerning the National Assembly will start being applied after the 2017 parliamentary elections. Also from then will be applied the amended statutes concerning political parties and the ombudsman. Also applied will be the amended Law on Local Government.

Finally, enacted will be the changes concerning the presidential election as the new National Assembly will elect a new president (a person with no party affiliation to serve for one seven-year term) who will assume his duties after the current president leaves office. And this will trigger the application of the remaining provisions of the amended Constitution.

At the same time amended laws concerning the Prosecution, TV and Radio, the Control Chamber and the Central Bank will also start to be applied.