The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of Raffi Hovannisian called on Armenia’s leading opposition and civic groups on Friday to join forces for a new effort to bring down President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration.
“Our aim should be regime change,” said Armen Martirosian, Zharangutyun deputy chairman. “We constantly deal with petty issues that originate from the work of this system of governance.”
Martirosian announced that the party plans to hold a rally on August 23 that will be open to all groups and individuals opposed to the Armenian government. He also urged opposition forces to accept Hovannisian’s proposal to start “roundtable” talks aimed at working out joint steps.
“We have to close ranks in a very short period of time … without an agenda written by anyone,” Martirosian told a news conference. “We should jointly draw up that agenda and put it into practice. We should jointly try to bring the country out of this situation.”
Hovannisian, who was Sarkisian’s main challenger in the February 2013 presidential election, already tried to consolidate the opposition when he challenged the official vote results with a campaign of street protests in Yerevan last spring. The campaign eventually fizzled out not least because of a lack of support from other opposition parties. Zharangutyun’s relations with them remain uneasy.
The fragmented opposition failed to generate popular enthusiasm for its cause in municipal elections that were held in Yerevan in May. The Armenian authorities are now facing stronger pressure from hundreds of mostly young and non-partisan activists that took to the streets after Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian raised public transport fees in the capital last month. Their protests forced Markarian to annul the unpopular decision.