Facing growing pressure to hand over power to Nikol Pashinian, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said late on Wednesday that it is ready to discuss “any issue” with the opposition leader following Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.
The HHK also indicated that it will replace Sarkisian, who technically remains the party chairman, with a new leader.
The HHK’s parliamentary faction made the announcement after its members met with Sarkisian and acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian to discuss the continuing political crisis in Armenia.
In a statement, it said Sarkisian, who served two presidential terms from 2008-2018, gave “more detailed explanations” for his decision to step down just six days after being elected prime minister by the HHK-controlled parliament. The ex-president also urged HHK lawmakers to regard “stability and the country’s security” as their chief priority.
According to the statement, the “second half of the meeting” was held in Sarkisian’s absence and focused on the government’s standoff with protesters led by Pashinian. The participants agreed to declare that “the HHK faction is prepared to discuss any issues with all sides without preconditions,” added the statement.
The meeting came as Pashinian, who leads the opposition Civil Contract party, held another big rally in Yerevan to demand that the parliament appoint him as interim prime minister and call snap elections. “We demand an explicit and unconditional capitulation of the Republican Party to the people,” he said.
Pashinian warned that his supporters will “blockade” the parliament building and the prime minister’s office in Yerevan if the HHK majority in the National Assembly moves to install Karapetian as prime minister. He accused the latter of illegally occupying the country’s top executive post.
“We are saying at this square that the Armenian people have a candidate for prime minister and the National Assembly factions must reckon with this political reality and nominate that candidate by consensus,” Pashinian said, clearly referring to himself. He urged supporters to continue to demonstrate and block streets and roads on Thursday.
Pashinian and Karapetian had been scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning. The meeting was called off after the acting premier rejected preconditions set by Pashinian.