Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian on Tuesday accused former President Serzh Sarkisian of trying to prevent Armenia’s parliament from electing him prime minister and to regain power one week after resigning as premier.
Pashinian attacked Sarkisian and another former president, Robert Kocharian, during an emergency session of the parliament which discussed his candidacy for the country’s top executive post. He blamed them for the fact that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has still not pledged support for his bid to replace Sarkisian.
“According to rumors handing in the air, last night Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian started personally exerting pressure on deputies from all National Assembly factions, warning them not to vote for the candidate of the Armenian people,” Pashinian charged on the parliament floor.
“The infamous duo has devised a plant to stop the popular wave [of protests] and return to power, and its main tool remains the same: threats, physical and psychological pressure and compromising material,” he said, warning of “unpredictable and undesirable consequences.”
“Sober up before it’s too late because your behavior can literally cause a political tsunami,” Pashinian added, appealing to Sarkisian and Kocharian.
The opposition leader went on to urge supporters to “flood streets and squares” across the country and stop the HHK leadership from “stealing your victory.” Thousands of them already rallied in Yerevan’s Republic Square as he addressed the National Assembly.
Pashinian’s 30-minute speech was followed by a question-and-answer session, with as many as 26 parliamentarians signing up to ask him questions. The parliament was due to vote on his prime-ministerial candidacy later in the day.
Pashinian has been endorsed by his Yelk alliance, the Tsarukian Bloc and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The three groups control 47 of the 105 parliament seats. The remaining 58 seats are held by the HHK. The latter has said that it will decide whether or not to back Pashinian just before the vote.
The HHK has not nominated a candidate of its own. The ruling party’s parliamentary leader, Vahram Baghdasarian said late last week that the HHK “will not obstruct” Pashinian’s election.
Baghdasarian clarified on Tuesday morning that he only promised that HHK lawmakers will not prevent the parliament from making a quorum.