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Armenian Opposition Seeks Special Session Of Parliament Amid Political Tensions


ARMENIA -- A priest stands next to police guarding the National Assembly during a protest against an agreement to halt fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, in Yerevan, November 11, 2020

Two opposition factions in the Armenian parliament have initiated a formal process to convene a special session to discuss the current situation created after Yerevan signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to end a six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Bright Armenia faction said that they also want to discuss the legality of the deal that requires Armenia to make heavy concessions.

The other faction, Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), joined Bright Armenia's initiative.

BHK members along with representatives of nearly two dozen other opposition parties have led street protests demanding that Pashinian step down as soon as possible over the deal he signed with Azerbaijan to end a six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh that the opposition largely views as an act of surrender.

Thousands of protesters staged a rally in Liberty Square in Yerevan earlier on Wednesday despite a ban imposed on gatherings while martial law introduced at the start of the war in late September is in place.

A group of demonstrators, including some opposition politicians, were briefly detained by police.

Demonstrators then went to the government office in the city’s main Republic Square before marching towards the National Assembly building. Police had cordoned off the areas before the arrival of demonstrators.

Leaders of the protest called on members of the parliamentary majority faction, My Step, to come to parliament so that a special session could be convened. They said that the removal of the prime minister should be on the agenda of this session.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), said that they were giving Pashinian until midnight to resign and set the same deadline to the parliament majority to convene a special session. Otherwise, he said, the opposition will present its further steps “to solve the matter until the end of the day tomorrow.”

Earlier on Wednesday the loose alliance of 17 opposition parties announced the establishment of a “national salvation committee.”

Meanwhile, leaders of several of the parties, including Hayrenik’s Artur Vanetsian and the BHK’s Gagik Tsarukian, were summoned to the National Security Service during the day.

Armenia’s police on Tuesday warned that holding rallies continues to be banned in the country, which has been under martial law since the latest fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27.

Speaking on state television, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian did not rule out that the current government could resign, but warned against any “coup” attempt.

“I want to assure all of the political forces that are trying to catch fish in murky waters in conditions of martial law that there will be no tolerance in this matter,” the deputy prime minister said.

He said that the time for looking for those responsible in a domestic political process will still come.

Armenia’s Special Investigation Service said late on Wednesday that a criminal case has been opened in connection with the rally held in violation of the law.

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