A radical opposition alliance renewed on Wednesday its calls for Armenia’s mainstream anti-government forces to join it in trying to topple President Serzh Sarkisian with a “civil disobedience” campaign.
The New Armenia Public Salvation Front proposed a “roadmap to the conduct of pre-term free and fair elections” in the country. In a statement, it said it expects the parliamentary opposition and civic groups to “rally around” the action plan.
The one-page plan envisages the holding of nonstop street protests in Yerevan aimed at forcing Sarkisian and his government to step down. It says the protesters should block streets, surround key government buildings and thereby “paralyze the criminal regime’s governance system.”
New Armenia already attempted to do so with a series of demonstrations held in December. The campaign fizzled out within weeks, with the radical oppositionists failing to attract large crowds. Virtually none of the country’s major opposition parties represented in the parliament joined that campaign.
Zhirayr Sefilian, a New Armenia leader, said last week that the bloc will hold talks with other opposition forces as well as civil society leaders in a fresh bid to win over them. The mainstream opposition has since shown no signs of its readiness to join the new push for regime change planned by Sefilian’s movement.
Levon Zurabian, a leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), said on Wednesday that his party headed by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian is unaware of New Armenia’s plans and has therefore not even discussed them.
Another opposition leader, Nikol Pashinian of the Civil Contract party, openly dismissed the New Armenia initiative. “I just don’t see a roadmap there,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “There have already been at least three attempts this year to achieve what’s written there. What makes them think that they can achieve a better result with the same steps?”
“What will be the source of the legitimacy of our [would-be joint] actions? Why do we think that the public will agree with them?” said Pashinian.
The HAK, Civil Contract and other major opposition parties are concentrating instead on parliamentary elections due in April or May 2017. New Armenia, by contrast, has said that it will not participate in the polls because it thinks that they will be rigged by the authorities.