The Armenian National Congress (HAK) made clear on Thursday that it will not join ongoing nonstop anti-government protests in Yerevan for now despite continuing to closely cooperate with more radical opposition groups that have organized them.
The No Front opposition coalition led by the HAK rallied supporters in the city’s Liberty Square just three days before a referendum on President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional changes. The square has been the scene of an around-the-clock sit-in launched on Tuesday by a more hardline opposition alliance, the New Armenia Public Salvation Front.
Both groupings are strongly opposed to the proposed amendments to the Armenian constitution, with New Armenia using them for trying to topple Sarkisian. The HAK, which is headed by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, has a less radical agenda, putting the emphasis on a popular vote against the amendments.
Addressing a relatively small crowd that gathered in the square, the HAK’s deputy chairman, Levon Zurabian, said that the No Front has managed to turn the referendum in into a popular vote of no confidence in Sarkisian. “Today all the people reject the constitutional changes simply because they reject Serzh Sarkisian,” he declared.
Zurabian again called for a high voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum on the constitutional changes, saying that it would help to prevent serious fraud. “You just have to go and vote ‘No,’” he said, appealing to Armenians. “Nobody can guarantee our victory, but I can guarantee that he who doesn’t fight is doomed to defeat.”
New Armenia’s two top leaders, Raffi Hovannisian and Zhirayr Sefilian, also delivered speeches at the rally. They played down their differences with the HAK, saying that both sides are committed to carrying out an anti-government “revolution.”
Zurabian stressed, however, that his party has no intention to join New Armenia’s campaign of “civil disobedience.” “As things stand now, the people are not yet ready for nonstop rallies,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The HAK’s next rally is scheduled for Monday.