By Hrach Melkumian
The Armenian opposition was on Monday distributing leaflets urging supporters to gather outside the parliament on Tuesday and back calls for President Robert Kocharian’s impeachment.
Thirteen opposition parties that joined forces last month following the closure of the independent A1+ channel will demand that the lawmakers bring impeachment proceedings against Kocharian on charges of violating the constitution. They need to enlist the support of at least 44 out of 131 deputies within 24 hours to force a debate on the issue.
The previous such initiative was blocked last fall by the majority of the deputies who are loyal to the head of state.
Opposition groups represented in the National Assembly are expected to start the collection of lawmakers’ signatures on Tuesday. They hope that the presence of an angry crowd outside the parliament building will force the deputies to sign the anti-Kocharian petition.
The impeachment drive is seen as an attempt to keep up the momentum in the opposition’s month-long campaign of street protests triggered by the April 2 shutdown of the A1+ channel. The opposition claims that it was part of Kocharian’s efforts to win another five-year term in presidential elections due early next year.
Kocharian has denied accusations that he was behind the controversial decision by a presidentially appointed commission on television and radio to strip A1+ of its broadcasting license.
On Friday several dozen opposition activists began a five-day sit-in at Yerevan’s Freedom Square, the traditional venue for most demonstrations in Armenia. “This is our way of protest against this regime,” said one of the protesters, Dustrik Mkhitarian.