Friday, November 23, 2007

When will LTP reflect on the elections in 96?

Haylur recently reported on Vazgen Manukyan's bitter response to LTP (see the video below). He said one thing that was the most relevant issue to the upcoming presidential elections; the conduct of the Armenian government during the 1996 presidential elections where it is alleged that the votes were falsified (I believe they were). But even worse, the government brought in the army to suppress the protests by Vazgen Manukyan's supporters.

The army, by definition, is an institution that protects the country from enemies. When you use army against your own people, you are treating your people as an enemy. That is unacceptable in a democratic and civilized society. The internal law and order should be maintained by police or communal militias, not the army.

And to add insult to the injury, the then defense minister affirmed that even if the opposition candidate had gathered 100% of the votes, he would not be allowed to become a president.

LTP has to account for this if he is to differentiate himself from SS. SS and his sponsor, Kocharian, have falsified elections and suppressed protests on a much grander scale but that does not make the 96 elections any more acceptable.

The voters need to see how LTP differentiates his brand from that of SS.


Onnik Krikorian said...

Interesting points about the use of the military and it is an interesting test of where Armenia is at present.

Basically, the Army MAY NOT be used to control the population UNLESS a State of Emergency was declared as we saw in Georgia recently.

Of course, it is alleged that in 2003 and 2004 military from Karabakh were brought into Armenia and dressed up as internal security services, but no evidence was provided.

Even so, there is no justification and constitutional or legal excuse to use the military in crowd control whatever the circumstances UNLESS that state of emergency is declared and effective martial law brought into play.

I don't know what the situation was like in this regard in 1996, but now it's 2007 and next year in 2008 there can be really no excuse for using the military even with constitutional provisions called into play.

Same was true earlier this month in Georgia btw. I still don't understand why he did that unless it was a ploy to call early elections (under the Georgian constitution new elections seem to have to be called after such a situation).

I think the Armenian Constitution is different, though, but I need to check.

kRoNStAdT said...

This is the fundamental contradiction in the concept of sovereignty. And this fundamental contradiction is encoded in Armenian constitution. On one had sovereignty is with the people and the army's mission is to guard that sovereignty of the people. On the other hand the most fundamental task of the president is to uphold the constitution and guarantee the security of the State. But because there is a separation between the concept of the State (the body of laws) and the Civitas, that there is this gap by which a president can potentially see the people as a danger to the State.

There is enough jurisdical and philosophical complexity here to trace back to Roman Law. This kind of contradictions works better for non-constitutional jurisdictions (like Britain), where theoretically the Monarch is still the ultimate tirant and can do whatever he/she pleases, though never does. But there is no room for revolutions here except for violent ones. The Republican Constitutionalism, however, is a revolutionary brainchild and this kind of contradition is a provision for future possible democratic revolutions to continue occuring. Normally, as a measurement of balance Republics would fall back to Roman provisions whereby the president cannot bring any legions/army into the capital, yet would have the right to maintain its own force of Presidential Guard.
For me neither of these is a good provision to prevent this kind of deployments from happening, because it dwells on a fundamental illusion that the State is identical to Civitas, while it's not -- the kind of fundamental contradiction that is present at all times of political life, though one that manifests itself openly in these moments of crises.

To resolve this means not to rewrite the constitution (because whichever way you twist it this philosophical problem of republicanism remains and leaves that practical gap vulnerable), but to restructure the governance (both legislature and executive) in a way that would be more democratic and would allow for a processual resolution of cuch crises. And this is basically what is known as "The Right to Civil Innitiative", which is practiced in countries like Switzerland and New Zealand: a single individual can potentially turn things around by an innitiative that will lead to a referendum. In effect, it's all legal and based on a process, rather than on violence and turmoil.

As for LTP addressing the 1996, I don't think there is anything that he can put in words that can clear his name to those who are generally sympathetic to him, but are still bitter about 1996. No Words can set it straight, it must be put in Action. Which is also why I proposed this:

nazarian said...

Kronstadt, guaranteeing the security of the state does not require bringing in troops to disperse a few thousand protesters. Let the people protest and instead of suppressing, provide police to maintain law and order, and protect the right of the protesters to protest.

Declaring a state of emergency because of a few thousand peaceful protesters is an outrageous abuse of power. A state of emergency could be declared in case of an armed uprising (HAB in Yerevan in 1991) or a natiral disaster (the earthquake in 1988).