The Armenian National Congress (HAK) will declare “war” against President Serzh Sarkisian if he fails to free its supporters remaining prison and meet other demands by April 28, a top representative of the opposition alliance said on Wednesday.
Levon Zurabian said the HAK still hopes to start “peaceful negotiations” with the Armenian authorities and achieve its goals with “civilized methods.”
“But this is a war, a real war,” he told a news conference “And if we want to achieve peace in that war, we must and we will get ready for war.”
Addressing thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan last Friday, the HAK’s top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, gave the Sarkisian until April 28 to release all “political prisoners,” pledge a proper inquiry into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan and guarantee opposition access to the city’s Liberty Square. He said the HAK will “drastically change” its tactic of political struggle if these demands are not fulfilled.
A senior member of ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) made clear this week that the authorities will take no major steps under opposition pressure.
Zurabian, who coordinates the HAK’s day-to-day activities, said the bloc has not yet decided just what it will do if the Sarkisian government ignores its demands. “We need to see what the people are prepared for, what they want, what political forces are prepared for,” he said.
But Zurabian stood by his earlier statement that Armenia’s largest opposition force is poised to launch a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience.” He said it could tell supporters to picket government buildings, stage sit-ins or even march to the presidential palace in Yerevan.
“Naturally, we need to hold serious discussions to see what [action] is applicable to Armenia and the existing political situation,” added the HAK coordinator.
Rival opposition parties dismiss Ter-Petrosian’s latest push for “regime change,” saying that he is in fact ready to cut deals with the government that would keep Sarkisian in power. Ruben Hakobian, the deputy chairman of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage), claimed on Monday that the Armenian president has agreed in return to call fresh parliamentary elections.
Zurabian denied that claim. He said Sarkisian’s resignation and the conduct of a snap presidential election remain the HAK’s top priority.