By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s largest opposition alliance set on Monday the mid-April deadline for launching its long-awaited push to oust President Robert Kocharian which is likely to involve a campaign of demonstrations outside the main government buildings in Yerevan.
The decision was made at a two-hour meeting of the ruling board of the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc. One of its members, Albert Bazeyan, told RFE/RL that the “decisive actions” will begin between March 27 and April 12. He said Stepan Demirchian and other Artarutyun leaders are still weighing up the situation to determine an “optimal date” for what they hope will be massive street protests against Kocharian.
“There is a certain divergence of views in the alliance,” he said. “Some insist that it is still possible to push legal amendments through the National Assembly and hold a referendum of confidence [in Kocharian], but others think that that is not realistic. The dominant view is that the authorities have already missed an opportunity to hold a referendum of confidence.”
Bazeyan added that Artarutyun will soon present its plan of actions to another major opposition force, the National Unity Party of Artashes Geghamian, and hopes that it will join in the onslaught. Geghamian has so far sent ambiguous signals about his willingness to participate in Artarutyun-led rallies. He has spoken of May as a more appropriate time for the campaign.
Both Artarutyun and National Unity have been touring various parts of the country for the past several weeks in the hope of mobilizing public support for their cause. Kocharian and his government, for their part, are conducting their own public relations campaign, with ministers sent to rural areas to hear popular grievances and explain government polices.
Precisely how the opposition intends to achieve regime change remains unclear. Some of its leaders have admitted drawing inspiration from the November bloodless “revolution of roses” in neighboring Georgia that brought about the downfall of its president, Eduard Shevardnadze.
“We’ll do and you’ll see,” Bazeyan said vaguely.