YEREVAN/Feb. 6 (The Bulletin) — Armenia’s parliament backed PM Nikol Pashinyan’s call for a referendum on April 5 that he hopes will end his festering dispute with the country’s Constitutional Court judges.
Mr Pashinyan, propelled into the top job in Armenia by a revolution in spring 2018, wants to sack the judges, men he accuses of supporting the former government, but the Constitutional Court has resisted.
Now, Armenians have been asked to vote on whether to back Mr Pashinyan and sack seven judges appointed by the previous government. Two judges appointed by Mr Pashinyan are not under threat.
In typically emotive language, Mr Pashynian appealed to the people and wrote on his Facebook page: “On April 5, we will say ‘yes’ to the Revolution, say ‘yes’ to Freedom and slam the door on corruption.
His critics have accused him of being more interested in propagating the 2018 revolution and his firebrand image than governing. They have said that he is misusing the constitution to revolve domestic disputes.
Hrayr Tovmasyan, chairman of Armenia’s Constitutional Court and one of the judges that Mr Pashinyan wants to sack, said that the referendum was an abuse of the constitutional system and was politically motivated. In December he was charged with abuse of power when he was serving as justice minister under former president Serzh Sargsyan.
European officials have become increasingly concerned with the row between Mr Pashinyan the judges. This week, the Venice Commission, Europe’s constitutional watchdog called for tension to “de-escalate”.
— This story was first published in issue no. 436 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin