17 days following Karabakh truce, martial law remains in Armenia – why?
Armenian opposition party Bright Armenia has submitted a proposal to abolish martial law in the country, which is still in effect 17 days following the Karabakh truce signed on November 10.
For several hours, MPs presented their arguments “for” and “against”, but the bill was rejected by a majority of votes.
The opposition says the abolition of martial law should be the first step towards the impeachment of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: while it is in effect, it is impossible to start this procedure.
The cancellation of martial law will thus allow the opposition to initiate the process of trying to impeach PM Pashinyan, with whom many in the public are dissatisfied following Armenia’s heavy losses, both material and territorial, in Karabakh.
If martial law is repealed, then rallies can be held again as well, though they have been ongoing despite the regulations prohibiting gatherings during the time of martial law.
The opposition says that if it is able to impeach Pashinyan, it would call for the creation of an interim government and the holding of early parliamentary elections.
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What MPs say
Hovhannes Igityan, a member of the ruling My Step bloc, said that international partners, including Armenia’s friends in Russia, say that a military threat from Turkey now looms over the country, which is why martial law has not been repealed. “Our army must be on alert to respond quickly to the situation.”
The opposition in turn says martial law is being used by the authorities in order to prevent the public from expressing its discontent, to oppose the statement of surrender signed by the prime minister.
“As for the protection of borders, this is a constant process, and for this reason we should not be in a state of martial law all the time,” said Ani Samsonyan, an MP from the opposition Bright Armenia.
Defense Ministry appeal
Secretary General of the Armenian Defense Ministry Artur Sargsyan said that the Defense Ministry does not recommend lifting martial law in Armenia. The draft submitted for discussion without the adoption of additional resolutions will create problems in the field of defense and security, Sargsyan stressed: “In order to avoid possible problems, the Ministry of Defense has developed appropriate legal norms and is going to present comprehensive mechanisms for solving all problems.”
Skirmish during discussion
Disputes flared up during the discussion, even leading to clashes between MPs.
One episode involved MP Naira Zohrabyan noting that Pashinyan had become the protagonist of animated films in Azerbaijan, with MP Hamazasp Danielyan replying: “You are also a superstar in Azerbaijan.”
After that, a real skirmish began between opposition MPs and representatives of the ruling bloc. As a result, Vice-Speaker Alen Simonyan had to call in the guards, who ultimately managed to calm down the MPs.