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Leaders Deepen Rift In Armenian Opposition Bloc


Armenia - Edmon Marukian (L) and Nikol Pashinian, leaders of the opposition Yelk alliance, address supporters rallying in Yerevan, 19Jan2018.

Disagreements within the opposition Yelk alliance seemed to deepen on Tuesday as two of its top leaders publicly traded verbal barbs over how to fight against President Serzh Sarkisian.

The bitter exchange came as one of them, Nikol Pashinian, continued to prepare for a series of demonstrations in Yerevan aimed at forcing Sarkisian not to extend his decade-long rule. Pashinian and a group of activists of his Civil Contract party began touring Armenia’s northern and central regions on foot for that purpose on Saturday.

The two other parties making up Yelk, Bright Armenia and Republic, have refused to join this campaign, saying that anti-Sarkisian protests will not attract large crowds. The Bright Armenia leader, Edmon Marukian, criticized Pashinian’s tactics in an op-ed article posted on Aravot.am.

In particular, Marukian said his opposition ally is seeking “short-term glory” and following a “path trodden by defunct political forces” which failed to achieve regime change in the country. “It is reckless to do the same thing every time and to expect to achieve a different result every time,” he wrote.

Armenia - Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian and his supporters pose for a photograph in Lori province, 2 April 2018.
Armenia - Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian and his supporters pose for a photograph in Lori province, 2 April 2018.

Pashinian hit back at Marukian as he and his associates walked through the northern Lori province in heavy rain. “The path drawn in Mr. Marukian’s article has been repeatedly trodden, including by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Orinats Yerkir party,” he said, referring to parties that have closely collaborated with Sarkisian during his rule.

“I am convinced that my actions reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of Yelk’s voters,” insisted Pashinian. He argued that the Yelk leadership has unanimously spoken out against Sarkisian’s “third term in office” before.

The Civil Contract leader is due to finish his 200-kilometer-long walking tour in time for his first anti-government rally in Yerevan slated for April 13. His party is planning to rally supporters in the city’s Liberty Square for at least four consecutive days.

The Armenian parliament dominated by Sarkisian’s supporters is scheduled to elect a new prime minister on April 17. The outgoing president, whose second term expires on April 9, is widely expected to take up what will now be the country’s top executive post.

Yelk finished third in last year’s parliamentary elections, winning 9 seats in the 105-member National Assembly.

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