Three leading political parties at odds with President Serzh Sarkisian rallied hundreds of supporters in the southern town of Ararat on Friday as they continued to prepare for a joint anti-government rally in Yerevan.
The largest of those parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), appeared to have moved closer to publicly demanding Sarkisian’s resignation which is sought by its more radical opposition allies, the Zharangutyun and Armenian National Congress (HAK) parties.
“A unique situation has emerged in Armenia: the authorities are alone and there is infighting in their ranks … We must fully take advantage of this opportunity,” Armen Martirosian told the rally in Ararat. Both he and HAK speakers at the rally said that regime change is a necessary condition for meeting challenges facing the country.
Senior BHK figures again stopped short of explicitly calling for Sarkisian’s ouster, while strongly criticizing the state of affairs in the country. One of them, Mikael Melkumian, said the opposition trio will live up to popular expectations.
Speaking at separate news briefings in Yerevan earlier in the day, representatives of all three parties said their rallies held in other parts of the country showed that Armenians want regime change.
“We want radical changes,” said the BHK’s Mikael Melkumian. “If that means regime change, then we are in favor of it.”
Melkumian stressed, however, that his party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian is not yet officially demanding the president’s resignation because it still hopes that the Armenian authorities will embark on a dialogue with the opposition. “So let’s not hurry up,” he said.
The three parties are scheduled to hold on October 10 an unprecedented joint demonstration in Yerevan that could mark the beginning of their campaign of sustained street protests. They began last week a series of smaller gatherings in towns across Armenia in an effort to drum up popular support for their cause.