Armenian National Congress (HAK) leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on Monday reaffirmed his unconditional rejection of the constitutional changes put forward by President Serzh Sarkisian, saying that his opposition party will keep fighting against them.
“This is not a constitutional reform, this is a change of constitution,” Ter-Petrosian said after a meeting of the HAK’s governing body. “They are putting our current constitution aside and enacting a new constitution that would destroy the foundations of our state.”
Ter-Petrosian made clear that the HAK will increasingly work together with other like-minded forces in trying to thwart the amendments which they believe would prolong Sarkisian’s rule. In that regard, he singled out You Won’t Pass It, a pressure group formed recently by young anti-government activists to campaign against the reform.
Earlier this month You Won’t Pass It helped to set up a coalition of about three dozen opposition parties and civic groups that will seek to prevent the Sarkisian administration from pushing through the constitutional changes. The grouping, of which Ter-Petrosian’s party is a member, will start on Friday a nationwide campaign of rallies for that purpose.
In his public remarks, Ter-Petrosian did not clarify whether he will personally participate in those rallies. He said only that the ruling “kleptocratic regime” will be forced to quit power “sooner or later.”
Senior HAK figures have repeatedly called for turning a referendum on the constitutional changes, due in early December, into a popular vote of no confidence in Sarkisian.
The proposed amendments to the Armenian constitution envisage Armenia’s transition to the parliamentary system of government after Sarkisian completes his second and final presidential term in 2018. The official rationale for the reform is to decentralize power and thereby facilitate democratization. The HAK and its allies maintain, however, that it would only enable Sarkisian to retain power in a different capacity.