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Key Armenian Party Explains ‘Regime Change’ Tactic


Armenia - A senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party addresses an opposition rally in Ararat, 3Oct2014.

Armenia - A senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party addresses an opposition rally in Ararat, 3Oct2014.

Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and its opposition allies are concentrating on the prevention of sweeping constitutional changes in their joint effort to unseat President Serzh Sarkisian, a senior BHK figure said on Tuesday.

Stepan Markarian elaborated on BHK’s first-ever public endorsement of radical opposition calls for “regime change” in Armenia, which was voiced during a rally held in the northern city of Vanadzor on Monday.

“Regime change is about us being against amending the constitution in order to prevent the authorities from reproducing themselves,” Markarian told reporters. “We have always said that the government will be changed in Armenia. That’s what our constitution says.”

“We are dealing with a departing president. We are dealing with a government departing with the president. Even if nothing occurs the authorities will quit power,” he said.

“It means that if we block the constitutional changes [planned by Sarkisian] then regime change in the country will occur in one way or another,” added Markarian. “Whether it’s regular or pre-term, regime change in the country will definitely happen.”

The BHK and the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties have repeatedly rejected the planned constitutional reform which is apparently aimed at transforming the country into a parliamentary republic. They say that Sarkisian is thus keen to stay in power after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018.

An ad hoc presidential commission is due to present Sarkisian with a final “concept” of the reform by October 15. It will start working on specific constitutional amendments in case of its approval by the head of state. Some Armenian officials have suggested that the draft amendments would be put on a referendum by the beginning of 2016, just over a year before the next parliamentary elections.

The BHK, the HAK and Zharangutyun are already stepping up pressure on the Sarkisian administration. They have held a series of rallies across the country over the past two weeks in preparation for a big joint demonstration that will take place in Yerevan on Friday.

Speaking after a fresh meeting of senior members of the three parties, Markarian indicated that the upcoming rally may well be followed by more anti-government protests in the capital. This is why, he said, it is still not clear whether their top leaders -- Tsarukian, the HAK’s Levon Ter-Petrosian and Zharangutyun’s Raffi Hovannisian -- will take part in Friday’s action.

“The leaders will definitely be in Liberty Square,” the BHK representative said. “We are now discussing at what point [they should show up.] Nobody has said that there will be a single rally. It’s a tactical issue. We have not made a final decision yet on when the leaders will join in.”

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