Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian resumed his anti-government protests in Yerevan on Wednesday morning, demanding that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) fully relinquish power following the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
“The HHK and [acting Prime Minister] Karen Karapetian are trying to wrest the victory from the people. We will not allow that,” Pashinian said as he led thousands of supporters marching through the city center and chanting “Nikol, prime minister!”
“The HHK is stalling for time,” Pashinian told the RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The Civil Contract party leader called for renewed acts of “civil disobedience” following the cancellation of his meeting with Karapetian which was due to start in the morning. The talks were called off after Karapetian rejected preconditions set by Pashinian.
Pashinian made clear on Tuesday that he would only discuss his key demands at the meeting. Those include the appointment of a “people’s candidate,” presumably Pashinian himself, as interim prime minister and the holding of snap parliamentary elections.
Speaking on Wednesday, Karapetian said that he is open to the idea of snap polls but that their date and modalities must be agreed by Armenia’s leading political forces by consensus. They also must enjoy “equal rules of the game,” he said.
“I am asking all of our citizens to think about what we want in a maximally sober way … Let the political forces sit down and reach agreement,” said Karapetian. He warned that the unrest is having increasingly negative effects on the Armenian economy.
Meanwhile, President Armen Sarkissian regretted the failure of Pashinian and Karapetian to embark on a dialogue. He announced that he will start on Wednesday “consultations with parliamentary and extraparliamentary forces” in an effort to end the grave political crisis.
“I hope that with joint efforts and in the spirit of mutual understanding we will succeed in finding paths to a possible settlement,” Sarkissian said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear which Armenian parties apart from the HHK and its junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, are ready to join such a dialogue.
Businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest parliamentary force, on Wednesday issued a statement urging its members to “take to the streets and stand with the people.” The BHK did not specify whether this means it supports Pashinian’s demands.