By Shakeh Avoyan
More than 2,000 women took to the streets of Yerevan on Monday to voice their support for opposition leader Stepan Demirchian and demand the annulment of last month’s presidential elections.
The protesters, led by female activists of the opposition Artarutyun (Justice) alliance, gathered outside the Armenian Constitutional Court just as it continued hearings on an appeal against the official results of the March 5 ballot brought by Demirchian. They called on the court to invalidate President Robert Kocharian’s reelection.
“We hope that justice will prevail and we will have a legitimate president,” one of the demonstrators said.
The rally was timed to coincide with the Day of Beauty and Motherhood, a women’s holiday marked in Armenia on April 7. Its organizers used the occasion to announce the creation of a new female organization, the Women’s Movement to Defend Democracy in Armenia.
“The overwhelming majority of our country’s citizens are unable to exercise their electoral rights and have, in effect, been stripped of their constitutionally guaranteed right to participate in state governance,” they said in a statement.
The statement also stressed that Armenian women, who are highly underrepresented in the government and elected bodies, must have a greater say in political affairs. “The women have been completely isolated from the republic’s decision-making processes, which is reflecting negatively on the establishment of democracy,” it said.
The latest protest is part of the Demirchian-led opposition’s efforts to keep up pressure on the authorities and the Constitutional Court in particular. Kocharian and his allies deny the allegations of vote rigging and are confident of a favorable court verdict.