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Opposition Bloc Presses Ahead With ‘Regime Change’ Bid


Armenia - Opposition activist Zhirayr Sefilian at a news conference in Yerevan, 30Nov2015.

Armenia - Opposition activist Zhirayr Sefilian at a news conference in Yerevan, 30Nov2015.

An Armenian opposition alliance will launch on Tuesday a campaign of nonstop demonstrations aimed at forcing President Serzh Sarkisian to resign even before Sunday’s referendum on his constitutional changes.

“We are nearing the finish line. The coming days will be special days for the Armenian people,” Zhirayr Sefilian, a leader of the radical alliance called the New Armenia Public Salvation Front, told reporters on Monday.

Sefilian claimed that Sarkisian’s resignation is “a matter of days.” “If [Sarkisian] realizes the seriousness of the situation and does not once again ignore the Armenian people, he will probably meet the fate of [Ukraine’s deposed President Viktor] Yanukovich,” he said.

“But if he tries to resist, a much worse thing can happen, including the [Nicolae] Ceausescu variant. The choice is his,” the radical oppositionist added, referring to Romania’s last Communist dictator who was overthrown and executed in 1989.

Raffi Hovannisian, whose Zharangutyun (Heritage) party is also aligned in New Armenia, issued no such ominous warnings when spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Sunday. But he too reaffirmed the New Armenia alliance’s efforts to use the December 6 constitutional referendum for achieving “regime change” in the country.

“I expect that on December 6 we will have a completely different situation in Armenia, which will make the vote secondary,” Hovannisian said. “It’s our wish … For the sake of Armenia’s salvation [Sarkisian] must resign and call fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.”

New Armenia has failed to pull large crowds in its preparatory public gatherings held in various parts of the country so far.

The Armenian police, meanwhile, warned on Monday that they will not hesitate to thwart any “provocative and illegal actions” by the radical opposition. The national police chief, Vladimir Gasparian, ordered his subordinates to respond “very strictly” to such actions as he a chaired a special meeting in Yerevan. “It’s a small country and we can’t tolerate any trouble here,” Gasparian said.

Sefilian, who already spent a month in jail while planning a similar regime change drive this spring, dismissed the warning. “We trust the Armenian people, rather than law-enforcement bodies representing the ruling anti-Armenian regime,” he said. “But we will definitely give them reason to act within the bounds of their duties. If they don’t comply with this demand, our people will force them to.”

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