The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun parties renewed their calls for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation on Tuesday, saying that he has failed to meet a list of their demands also backed by two other parties.
The HAK, Zharangutyun as well as the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) issued the 12 concrete demands addressed to the authorities in June. They said they will rally supporters in Yerevan in late September to discuss the government response and decide on “further joint actions.”
The four-party ultimatum includes a halt to a controversial pension reform, tax cuts for small businesses and a breakup of de facto economic monopolies. The document also demands the conduct of parliamentary elections only on a party-list basis and more safeguards against vote rigging.
Representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said they will consider these demands. More senior government officials made clear afterwards, however, that the opposition agenda is mainly unacceptable.
“I think that nothing has been fulfilled,” said Ruben Hakobian, Zharangutyun’s parliamentary leader. “These demands could have been satisfied within three months but that hasn’t happened for one obvious reason: the authorities have no political will,” he told a news conference.
Hakobian said the anti-government quartet should therefore seek President Sarkisian’s resignation. “The authorities are demonstrating that they are not evaluating the situation adequately, and so we are obliged to raise the issue of their resignation,” he said.
“The people must not tolerate the continued existence of Serzh Sarkisian’s regime in Armenia,” agreed Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman.
Both Zharangutyun and the HAK have for years challenged Sarkisian’s legitimacy and demanded his exit. Dashnaktsutyun and especially the BHK have favored a more cautious line until now, saying that the president’s resignation is not on their agenda.
BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian and senior members of his party, the second largest in Armenia’s parliament, met on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the authorities’ response to the opposition demands. Tigran Urikhanian, the BHK spokesman, declined to divulge any details of that meeting. He said only that Tsarukian’s party will clarify its position after holding more talks with the three other parties.
According to Zharangutyun’s Hakobian, the top leaders of the four parliamentary minority parties will hold fresh face-to-face talks soon.
Sarkisian dismissed the opposition threats of street protests on Saturday. He said his opponents are free to rally their supporters in Yerevan but must make sure that their protests take place “within the bounds of the law.”