Raffi Hovannisian, the official runner-up in Armenia’s presidential election, sought to keep up pressure on Serzh Sarkisian on Friday, again rallying supporters in Yerevan and demanding the incumbent president’s resignation.
Hovannisian held a fresh rally in Yerevan after two days of what he called “victorious visits” to more regions of Armenia where he met supporters to again declare himself the legitimate winner of the February 18 election.
Hovannisian said he will tour the eastern Gegharkunik region on Saturday before staging yet another rally in Yerevan’s Liberty Square the following day. He said he will read out on Sunday a “special declaration” that will indicate “the future path” of his opposition movement.
“After that Serzh Sarkisian, whom I respect and who will remain president until April 9, will have to not just resign at my request but to ask the people to let him resign,” claimed the opposition leader. “We must go till the end,” he said.
Hovannisian gave no details of his post-election strategy which is increasingly questioned by other opposition leaders and commentators.
Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), meanwhile, continued to dismiss Hovannisian’s demands, saying that the incumbent won reelection fair and square. “The opposition doesn’t know what it wants because it hasn’t developed its own strategy yet,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said late on Thursday.
Sharmazanov claimed at the same time that Hovannisian is keen to “keep his electorate fired up in order to have a more influential role” in the May 5 municipal elections in Yerevan. He also blamed Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party for the collapse of its talks held with the HHK in the parliament in the past week.
The talks broke down that after the ruling party refused to call a special parliament session on the post-election developments that would discuss, among other things, Zharangutyun demands for snap parliamentary elections. Instead the HHK expressed readiness to consider major constitutional reform that would curtail the president’s powers. It proposed that Hovannisian head a multi-party commission that would work out corresponding amendments to the Armenian constitution.