Armenia’s leading opposition parties rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan late on Friday, warning President Serzh Sarkisian to negotiate his exit from power or face what one of their leading members called a “wave of civil disobedience.”
Levon Ter-Petrosian and Raffi Hovannisian, the chairmen of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party respectively, attacked Sarkisian in especially strong terms.
But Gagik Tsarukian, their opposite number from the more influential Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), delivered a much shorter and more ambiguous speech. He said he will speak at greater length at their next anti-government rally. Other speakers said the opposition trio will set a date for it early next week.
In his speech, Ter-Petrosian again accused the Sarkisian administration of being mired in corruption and leading Armenia to “destruction.” He said a “complete regime change” in the country through fresh presidential and parliamentary elections is therefore imperative.
“As regards the package or phased variants of realizing regime change or the mechanisms for holding pre-term elections, we will talk about that at the next rally,” said Ter-Petrosian. He made clear at the same time that the opposition alliance is open to “reasonable proposals on dialogue and compromise solutions” from Sarkisian.
Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman, clarified that the opposition expects from Sarkisian a “roadmap to the restoration of democracy” resulting in a “peaceful handover of power.” “We are giving the Armenian authorities several days to go down that path,” he said. The opposition will “sweep away these authorities with a wave of nationwide civil disobedience” if Sarkisian and his Republican Party (HHK) reject these demands, he warned.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, shrugged off the HAK statements later in the evening. Tert.am quoted Sharmazanov as calling Ter-Petrosian a “depleted political pensioner.” He avoided attacking the BHK and Zharangutyun.