Martial law canceled in Armenia 4 months after end of Karabakh war
Cancellation of martial law in Armenia
Since the end of the second Karabakh war in late 2020, the parliamentary opposition of Armenia has proposed three times to abolish martial law.
But the ruling My Step party, which has the majority of mandates in parliament, opposed the initiative of the opposition.
The main restrictions of martial law were canceled back in December 2020. There remained only a ban on a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.
But now martial law has been completed repealed. The initiative again came from the opposition factions represented in the parliament – the Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties.
118 MP voted for the abolition of the regime, only one was against, one abstained.
Below – why the ruling party finally agreed to end the martial law regime.
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Discussion of the bill
Leader of the Enlightened Armenia opposition faction Edmon Marukyan presented the bill on the abolition of martial law at the parliamentary session:
“Martial law restricts the rights of the opposition, democracy in the country, there is no way to hold elections to local government bodies.”
In turn, the speaker of the parliament Ararat Mirzoyan noted that it would be more expedient for the government to initiate the cancellation of martial law. But since the opposition only a few days earlier put it on the agenda and there are political agreements, then “you can go to meet the opposition.”
Speaking about political agreements, the speaker means an agreement between the Prime Minister and the heads of two parliamentary opposition parties to hold early elections.
As Nikol Pashinyan announced, they will be held on June 20, and the people will decide who will be in power. Prior to that, the prime minister had repeatedly stated that he would not resign at the request of only opposition supporters, since he took this post by the will of the entire people.
Restrictions during martial law
In December 2020, the following martial law restrictions were lifted:
- a ban on organizing, holding and participating in meetings and strikes
- restrictions related to the movement of citizens – in particular, men between the ages of 18 and 55
- special regime of entry and exit from the country
- restrictions on publications in the media
At the same time, the opposition began to hold rallies demanding the resignation of the prime minister, who signed a document unfavorable for the Armenian side, back in November. Thousands of demonstrations and processions in Yerevan were held immediately after the signing of the trilateral agreement.
Moreover, since February 25, oppositionists have blocked the entrance to the parliament from the side of Bargamyan Avenue in the center of the capital and set up tents here, in which their supporters stayed day and night. Since March 9, they have also blocked the second entrance to the building of the National Assembly – from the side of Demirchyan Street.
So, on March 24, parliament lifted the only remaining ban – a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.
Political scientist Hrant Mikaelyan says that over the past 365 days, from March 24, 2020 to March 23, 2021, Armenia has lived
- 172 days in a state of emergency declared due to coronavirus,
- 178 days under martial law,
- 15 days in the normal legal regime when these restrictions did not apply:
“In total, 47.1% of the year Armenia lived under state of emergency, 48.8% – under martial law, and 4.1% – without restrictions on human rights. And in total, special legal regimes restricting human rights occupied 95.9% of the year ”.
According to the expert, in none of the cases did the authorities achieve the result for which the state of emergency was introduced:
“The fight against the covid was hopelessly failed, they suffered a catastrophic defeat in the war.”
Answering the question why the martial law regime was decided to be lifted right now, Hrant Mikaelyan noted two reasons:
“In addition to the obvious, approaching expiration of a six-month period, after which it will have to be extended [legislatively], which is problematic, there is one more aspect. During martial law, the General Staff of the Armed Forces is the main body in the field of defense, and in peacetime it is subordinate to the Minister of Defense.
Since the General Staff is de facto neutralized [the head of the General Staff, who demanded the prime minister’s resignation, was dismissed, a new leader has been appointed, who has already stated that the military will not be involved in political processes], it is time to neutralize him de jure.”