By Ruzanna Stepanian
A broad-based opposition alliance has unveiled plans for a fresh campaign to rally its supporters which they hope to start beginning next month.
Known as “Seventeen plus One”, the format includes 18 opposition parties that have been pushing for a regime change for the past several years.
Now the leaders of the alliance say its member parties will start touring Armenian regions, both jointly and separately, to try to boost their popular support ahead of the next parliamentary elections.
Garnik Markarian, the leader of a small party called Homeland and Honor, said “the opposition will try to raise people to their feet” under the slogan of “Power Back to People”. He expressed his optimism based on observation that their campaign will end in a success as “people are waiting for a new force to come and that force is 17+1.”
Another member of the format, “New Times” party leader Aram Karapetian is convinced that early elections are unavoidable in Armenia as, according to him, the parliamentary elections planned for next year will be a ‘sham’.
“If we go to the elections in the current moral and psychological situation when everything is under state control, what will change in the 2007 elections?” he queried.
Karapetian announced his party’s plans to launch active operations already on April 4 by staging an open-air conference near Matenadaran in central Yerevan. He said it will be a forced measure as the government refuses to provide the party with premises for holding its events.
He said during the conference the party leadership will present its future steps to his party’s rank and file as well as members of other parties of the format. After that, according to Karapetian, the New Times party also plans tours and public rallies in different regions of Armenia.
Karapetian also expects to boost financial resources for the movement as it progresses estimating that “it will take some $10 million to consummate it.”