By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Armenia’s three largest opposition parties rallied on Friday thousands of supporters in Yerevan to reiterate their demand for President Robert Kocharian’s resignation. Leaders of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) and the National Unity and Hanrapetutyun parties vowed to carry on with their campaign for Kocharian’s impeachment.
The organizers of the rally estimated that more than 20,000 people attended it. But police put the turnout at less than 7,000.
“The establishment of the rule of law and prosperity in Armenia requires the removal from power of Robert Kocharian and his regime,” Hanrapetutyun chairman Albert Bazeyan told the crowd, repeating traditional accusations directed at the authorities. He said the opposition troika will only use “constitutional methods” in its drive to unseat Kocharian.
Bazeyan and other speakers, including National Unity’s popular leader Artashes Geghamian, said they will make more efforts to get the Armenian parliament to launch impeachment proceedings against the president. So far only a fraction of its members have signed an opposition petition listing grounds for Kocharian’s ouster.
Kocharian, who has announced his decision to seek reelection in 2003, on Thursday again shrugged off the opposition assault. He claimed that the street protests and other opposition activities play into the hands of rival Azerbaijan which has repeatedly threatened to take military action in Nagorno-Karabakh.