Armenian law-enforcement agencies shall be subordinated directly to the prime minister as part of a newly-proposed bill
The prime minister’s powers will expand in Armenia. The list of agencies subordinate to him/her will now also include the Police, the National Security Council, the State Protection and State Control Services.
Under the government’s proposed legislative package which has already been approved by the Armenian National Assembly, the aforesaid law-enforcement agencies which were previously accountable to the president will come under the prime minister’s control. The bill will come into effect after it is signed into law by the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan.
The prime minister’s election which is scheduled for April is of crucial importance to Armenia. Under the 2015 constitutional amendments, Armenia will finally switch to a parliamentary system of government with the prime minister, rather than the president, acting as the country’s leader.
The prime minister’s role and responsibilities are being expanded by the government and parliament ahead of the prime minister’s election. Consequently, the president’s powers will be limited, especially as this post has already become symbolic under constitutional amendments.
The authorities claim that the levers of control over the law-enforcement agencies are transferred to the prime minister because those agencies are in no way involved in the political processes and they merely execute the adopted decisions.
“A member of government should assume responsibility for those agencies. In this case, we considered it appropriate to place this responsibility on the prime minister,” said Justice Minister David Harutyunyan.
According to the opposition the changes are being implemented for other reasons, specifically in that everything has been done to introduce a post of ‘super’ prime minister, with all the law-enforcement agencies obeying his direct orders.
“All it proves is that Armenia’s parliamentary government system is fake,” said Edmond Marukyan, an MP from the Yelk opposition parliamentary faction.
Representatives of the opposition believe that expanding the prime minister’s powers is conditioned by Sargsyan’s intention to run for the position of prime minister.
The members of Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia argue that their party leader is indispensable in the role of head of state and there is no one else to assume such an important position.
Sargsyan is so far the only one on the candidacy list for the post of prime minister.
Under the Armenian Constitution, only a political party who holds the majority of the seats in the National Assembly shall have the right to nominate a candidate for the post of prime minister.