The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has said that street demonstrations planned by opposition groups cannot deter it from helping President Serzh Sarkisian stay in power after his final presidential term ends on April 9.
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian confirmed on Thursday his Civil Contract party will hold rallies in Yerevan in an attempt to prevent Armenia’s HHK-controlled parliament from electing Sarkisian prime minister later in April. Pashinian did not rule out non-violent actions aimed at disrupting sessions of the National Assembly. His party is due to present a more detailed plan of actions on Saturday.
Commenting on Pashinian’s plans, HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said late on Thursday: “Nobody has the right to … impede our constitutional right to freely perform our duty to vote [for prime minister] in the parliament.”
“If the [opposition] Yelk alliance had a majority [in the parliament] and someone tried to limit its voting rights or its right to decide who must be prime minister, how would they react? Our people voted for us [in the April 2017 elections] and we … will execute their political order,” Sharmazanov told reporters.
Yelk is the country’s third largest parliamentary force that consists of Civil Contract and two other opposition parties. The latter have refused to join Pashinian’s campaign, saying that it is unlikely to attract large crowds.
Sarkisian has not yet officially confirmed his plans to become prime minister in time for Armenia’s transition to a parliamentary system of government. But some of his political allies have described this as a forgone conclusion.
Sarkisian stated in 2014 that he “will not aspire” to the post of prime minister if Armenia is transformed into a parliamentary republic. His political opponents now accuse him of reneging on that pledge.
Also planning anti-Sarkisian street protests is a coalition of smaller and more radical opposition groups called For the Armenian State. Pashinian has been reluctant to join forces with it so far, saying that it must speak out against violent methods of political struggle.