ASBAREZ Online [04-12-2004]


1) Vote of Confidence ‘Recommendation’ Not Mandatory Stresses Constitutional
2) Pro-Government Majority Boycotts Parliament Sessions
3) Opposition Rally Continues into Monday
4) Iraqi Gunmen Batter US Supply Lines

1) Vote of Confidence ‘Recommendation’ Not Mandatory Stresses Constitutional

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s Constitutional Court again clarified its April
15, 2003 decision recommending a vote of confidence in the president, in an
effort to end attempts to exploit the decision in “pursuit of political
stemming from “unawareness of constitutional justice,” it said in a
Issued on Monday, the statement stresses that the Constitutional Court upheld
the country’s Central Electoral Commission decision on the results of
presidential elections, and that the decision is final and binding; it also
spelled-out the nature and rationale of its suggestion for a vote of
“When regulating a national conflict, the Constitutional Court must not only
provide a concrete legal solution, but must also outline (keeping in mind the
country’s legal and democratic development) realistic legal means for
regulating social and political issues. The Constitutional Court stressed in
its decision that since possible confrontation could greatly endanger the
country, the conflict must be overcome democratically. One of the suggested
methods was to hold a [presidential] referendum of confidence, which supposes
direct utilization of democratic potentials. The proposal was underlined as a
non-compulsory proposal, bearing no legal consequences.”
The statement also emphasizes that that it made no decision on the
constitutionality of the Law on Referendums, allowing the National Assembly
(NA) to pursue the issue, taking into consideration the NA’s commitments
the Council of Europe that call for reforms of election laws.
“More than 110 Constitutional Courts currently operate throughout world, and
their decisions, without exception, include both mandatory decisions and
non-compulsory recommendations.
Thus, the Constitutional Court of Armenia requests that its decision be
only from a legal point and attempts to make it a subject of political
speculation be halted,” concludes the statement.

2) Pro-Government Majority Boycotts Parliament Sessions

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A regular session of Armenia’s parliament was disrupted on
Monday after the majority of deputies representing the ruling government
coalition refused to attend.
A brief statement by the Republican Party (HHK), the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (ARF), and the Orinats Yerkir Party said the move is aimed at
“avoiding artificial tensions.” Deputy parliament speaker and ARF leader Vahan
Hovannisian, stated that the coalition partners want to stave off possible
clashes between their supporters and the opposition crowd.
Some leaders of the parliament’s opposition minority, which has been
boycotting its sessions since February, were quick to criticize the boycott.
Victor Dallakian of the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc accused the majority of
“dodging responsibility” for the increasingly tense situation. But Artashes
Geghamian, the leader of the National Unity Party, welcomed it, saying that
ruling coalition defied Kocharian.

3) Opposition Rally Continues into Monday

YEREVAN (Reuters, Yerkir)–Up to 5,000 opposition protestors marched through
the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Monday to demand the resignation of the
nation’s president.
The protestors are calling for President Robert Kocharian to either step
or for a nationwide confidence vote to take place on the Kocharian
Speaking at the rally National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian, said
that neither the removal of the existing president or a new president will
resolve problems, and suggested a plan be developed to draw the population out
their situation.
Victor Dallakian, in turn, said it is not Robert Kocharian they oppose,
his administration.
Riot troops sealed off the presidential offices and the nation’s parliament
Two deputies affiliated with the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc, Tatul Manaserian
and Vartan Khachatrian, were briefly detained on Monday as they campaigned in
the city’s northern and southern districts, urging local residents to attend
the opposition rally due in the afternoon.
Over the weekend, prosecutors said that two armed men were detained on Friday
for allegedly planning to carry out a “terrorist act” on behalf of an
opposition lawmaker. The statement claimed that the opposition paid the two
to shoot at and “terrorize” its own supporters during a street protest.
State-run Armenian Public Television aired late on Monday the footage of an
interrogation of the two men who claimed to have been paid by Artarutyun
lawmaker Smbat Ayvazian to fire gunshots and “spread panic” during the first
opposition rally held in Yerevan on Friday.
According to the Armenian Police Service, 31 residents of Yerevan have been
sentenced to between two and six days in prison while 28 others fined for
attending the unsanctioned anti-Kocharian demonstrations in the capital. The
police had no information on detained residents of other Armenian regions.
Also on Sunday, the authorities made a second arrest in their separate
criminal investigation into the opposition campaign for regime change.
Zakarian, a senior member of the Hanrapetutyun party affiliated with
Artarutyun, was held as he tried to enter Freedom Square.

4) Iraqi Gunmen Batter US Supply Lines

FALLUJAH (AP)–Under pressure from the US military, a Shiite Muslim cleric
withdrew his militiamen Monday from police stations and government
buildings in
three key southern cities after taking control from coalition forces last

Elsewhere, there were daring rebel attacks on US supply convoys Monday, when
the military also reported two American soldiers and seven employees of a US
contractor had been missing for at least two days after an ambush in the Sunni
Triangle region west of Baghdad.
China reported Monday that seven of its citizens were taken hostage. Three
Czech journalists also were missing. An Iraqi official said 12 foreign
had been released Monday without giving any details.
The top US military spokesman, meanwhile, said about 70 Americans and 700
insurgents had been killed this month, the bloodiest since the fall of Baghdad
a year ago.
In Najaf, a lawyer representing cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said police were back
on the streets and in their stations for the first time since the al-Mahdi
militia took control last week. Witnesses and police in Karbala and Kufa said
the militiamen had pulled back there as well.
“Al-Sayed al-Sadr issued instructions for his followers to leave the sites of
police and the government,” said lawyer Murtada al-Janabi, one of al-Sadr’s
representatives in negotiations with Iraqi Shiite political parties on ending
the US standoff.
One of the US demands in the talks was the return of police and government
control in all three cities al-Sadr’s militia took over–Najaf, Kufa, and
Karbala. The Americans, who are not taking part in the talks, also demanded
dissolution in the al-Mahdi Army.
The military said it had the cities of Kut, Nasiriyah, and Hillah under
Sanchez said he did not know where al-Sadr was, but he was last known to
be in
“The mission of US forces is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr. That is our
mission,” Sanchez said.
A tenuous cease-fire was holding in Fallujah, but more US forces maneuvered
into place around the city, and commanders said they were not yet ready to
negotiate with the insurgents.
The military has been trying to regain control of supply routes after several
convoys were ambushed and at least 10 truck drivers kidnapped. Nine were
released, but an American–Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss.–remained a captive.
On Monday, a convoy of flatbed trucks carrying M113 armored personnel
was attacked and burned on a road in Latifiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad.
Witnesses said three people were killed.
A supply truck was also ambushed and set ablaze Monday on the road from
Baghdad’s airport. Looters moved in to carry away goods from the truck as
police looked on without intervening.
An attack on a convoy Sunday killed a Romanian working for a security
Romania’s ambassador to Iraq said. Two German security guards were killed on a
highway last week, prompting Germany to urge all of its citizens to leave Iraq
on Monday.
Securing roads has now become a top priority for the military, US Brig. Gen.
Mark Kimmitt said Monday.
“Over the past 24 hours we have put significant amount of combat power on
areas of operation to open up those lines of communication so we can not only
resupply our forces in Fallujah, Ramadi and our forces down south, but also
make those roads safe for travel,” Kimmit said.
“They’re at a condition that we would call amber; it is certainly not green
yet,” he said.
Three US Marines were killed Sunday in Anbar province, the area that includes
Fallujah, the military said Monday without giving further details. An
attack on
an Army patrol in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, killed a soldier from
1st Armored Division and injured four others on Sunday.
Kimmitt on Monday released the first full casualty statistics since
fighting erupted on April 4.
“The coalition casualties since April 1 run about 70 personnel. … The
casualty figures we have received from the enemy are somewhere about 10 times
that amount, what we’ve inflicted on the enemy,” he told a Baghdad press
About 600 Iraqi dead, mostly civilians, were recorded by the main hospital
four clinics in Fallujah, hospital director Rafie al-Issawi told The
In all, about 880 Iraqis have been killed, according to an AP count, based on
statements by Iraqi hospital officials, US military statements and Iraqi
President Bush prepared Americans for the possibility of more US casualties.
“It was a tough week last week and my prayers and thoughts are with those who
pay the ultimate price for our security,” Bush said.
Marines on Sunday investigated a bomb-making factory first uncovered three
days earlier. Along with five suicide belts found in the initial raid, they
uncovered US military uniforms–suggesting suicide bombers may try to get
to American forces, Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne said.
Sanchez, the top US commander in Iraq, acknowledged that a battalion of the
Iraqi army refused to fight in Fallujah–a sign of Iraqi discontent with the
Asked about the battalion’s refusal on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Sanchez said,
“This one specific instance did in fact uncover some significant challenges in
some of the Iraqi security force structures … We know that it’s going to
us a while to stand up reliable forces that can accept responsibility.”
Some 900 members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps are with three
battalions of
Marines. US forces on Sunday examined a captured insurgent cache of suicide
belts–raising concerns of a deadly new tactic in the city’s fighting.
Bush held out hope for the Fallujah talks, saying the United States was “open
to suggestions” on reducing the violence.
Meanwhile, a rash of kidnappings continued. Seven Chinese civilians were
abducted by insurgents in central Iraq Sunday evening, China’s government
A Czech television reporter, cameraman and radio reporter were also missing
believed kidnapped, their employers said.
In the last week, militants have kidnapped more than 30 civilians from at
least 12 countries.
Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, a Sunni Muslim, who is also the head of the Iraqi Islamic
Party, said up to 12 foreigners taken hostage had been released, but he did
identify the nationalities of the hostages or where they were.
Still unknown was the fate of Hamill, whose captors threatened to kill him
unless the Marines withdrew from Fallujah. Other insurgents promised to
three Japanese by Sunday, but the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad said Monday they
had not been freed.
In the south, members of the Iraqi Governing Council have reportedly held
talks with followers of al-Sadr.
One factor that has held off US action to uproot al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army
militia was the presence of up to 1.5 million Shiite pilgrims in Karbala for
Sunday’s al-Arbaeen ceremonies, one of the holiest days of the Shiite
calendar. Most pilgrims had left the city by Monday morning.
US commanders are demanding that control of Iraqi police and US-led coalition
forces in the cities be restored and that insurgents in Fallujah lay down
arms and hand over Iraqis who killed and mutilated four American civilians on
March 31.
Despite the truce in Fallujah, guerrillas overnight made sporadic attacks,
said Byrne. Marines killed two insurgents setting up a machine gun near a
patrol and others were fired on by gunmen hiding in a school, he said.
The bodies of 11 Iraqis were seen brought to a makeshift clinic in a city
mosque Sunday.
Most of the Iraqis killed in Fallujah in fighting that started April 5 were
women, children and elderly, said al-Issawi, the Fallujah hospital director.
Byrne cast doubt on the numbers and said he was confident troops in his 1st
Battalion, 5th Regiment had not killed any civilians.
“Just because (the Iraqis) say it’s so, doesn’t meant it’s so,” he said.
Fallujah residents took advantage of the lull in fighting to bury their dead
in two soccer fields. One of the fields, seen by an AP reporter had rows of
freshly dug graves, some marked on headstones as children or with the names of
women. A gravedigger at the site said that more than 300 people were buried

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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS