One of the eight candidates in the Armenian presidential race remained on hunger strike for a ninth consecutive day on Tuesday, insisting on his demands for President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.
Andreas Ghukasian, a political commentator running a private radio station in Yerevan, has been camped outside the National Academy of Sciences building in the city center since the official start of campaigning for the February 18 presidential election.
RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) enabled him to answer questions sent by Armenians through Facebook in an unprecedented live Internet broadcast organized on the spot. The hour-long show went ahead despite heavy snow and sleet. It was made possible by latest live video streaming technologies used by the radio station.
Ghukasian, who was never regarded as a major contender, said he is determined to continue the lone protest and keep demanding that President Sarkisian be barred from seeking reelection. He also wants international organizations not to monitor the upcoming election. “It is imperative to overcome Armenia’s criminal-oligarchic system,” he said.
The 42-year-old charged that Sarkisian must be disqualified from the race because he leads a political force with a long history of vote rigging. “In a democratic state a political force that has done nothing but to breach the constitution cannot take part in elections,” he said.
Ghukasian also told Armenian users of Facebook that he hopes his hunger strike will help to end what he called widespread public apathy about politics and the forthcoming election in particular.