Nikol Pashinian, a prominent opposition figure, hit out at three major political parties challenging the Armenian government on Monday after they refused to back his calls for impeaching President Serzh Sarkisian.
Pashinian circulated late last week a motion to call an emergency parliament session that would debate the launch of impeachment proceedings against Sarkisian.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties hold between them more than 44 seats in the 131-member National Assembly needed for forcing such a debate on the parliament floor. None of them backed Pashinian’s initiative before the expiry of Monday’s legal deadline for its validity.
Only two other deputies -- Alexander Arzumanian and Zaruhi Postanjian -- added their signatures to the motion. Postanjian is a senior member of Zharangutyun openly critical of the party’s cooperation with the HAK and especially BHK.
Zharangutyun’s parliamentary leader, Ruben Hakobian, suggested that there are ulterior motives behind Pashinian’s initiative, arguing that the outspoken oppositionist did not consult with the opposition trio beforehand. Hakobian also pointed to Pashinian’s failure to list the “rigged” presidential election of February 2013 among the reasons for impeaching Sarkisian.
The BHK, which is represented in the parliament by 36 deputies, said that despite largely agreeing with Pashinian’s evaluation of the state of affairs in Armenia it believes that an impeachment bid would make no sense now because it would be easily blocked by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The HAK, of which Pashinian is a former senior member, made a similar point in a weekend statement issued by one of its parliament staffers. It said that the impeachment bid is “doomed to abject failure” and could only strengthen the Sarkisian administration.
Pashinian dismissed this argument at a news conference held immediately after the failure of his signature collection. “I want to remind that the HAK has previously circulated a number of bills, including in a trilateral format, while knowing in advance they won’t pass because there aren’t sufficient votes … Why did they do that?” he said.
Pashinian, who set up his own political group called Civil Contract last year, went on to question the opposition credentials of the three parties that recently held a series of anti-government demonstrations. “They say that the process taking place in [Yerevan’s] Liberty Square will lead to a systemic regime change,” he said. “In that context, I may have received an answer about the extent to which those claims correspond to reality.”
Pashinian had suggested earlier that the HAK, the BHK and Zharangutyun want to cut power-sharing deals with Sarkisian or clinch other concessions instead of forcing him to resign.