Their leaders continued to blame Pashinian for the Armenian side’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan that was stopped by a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement on November 10.
“What we are saying is that a defeated leader who signed that humiliating [Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani] statement cannot represent Armenian interests in the agreement signed as a result of that statement,” Artur Vanetsian, a former head of the National Security Service (NSS), told the crowd that gathered in the city’s Liberty Square.
Vanetsian’s Hayrenik (Fatherland) party is one of the 16 opposition groups that launched anti-government protests following the announcement of the truce accord strongly condemned by them.
The groups also include the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the former ruling Republican Party (HHK). Vanetsian insisted that they are not seeking to restart the war or bring Armenia’s former rulers back to power.
Pashinian and his political allies have rejected the opposition demands. The prime minister pledged instead on November 18 to reshuffle his cabinet to implement over the next six months a plan of actions designed to “establish stability and security in the country.” He replaced his ministers of defense, foreign affairs, labor and emergency situations in the following days.
Speakers at Saturday’s opposition rally dismissed the cabinet shakeup and Pashinian’s 15-point action plan envisaging, among other things, a major reform of Armenia’s armed forces, continued fight against corruption and government efforts to stimulate economic activity.
“In order to stall for time, [Pashinian] opted for sacrificing his allies and friends,” said Dashnaktsutyun’s Gegham Manukian.
An alternative “roadmap” presented by the 16 opposition forces calls for the formation of an interim government and conduct of snap parliamentary elections.
Pashinian’s associates say that the opposition demands are not backed by most Armenians. They argue that only a few thousand people have attended the anti-government rallies. They also accuse the opposition of exploiting the Karabakh war in a bid to come to power.
“We are not seeking to take power at any cost,” Artsvik Minasian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Sunday.
“What we are saying is: ‘Nikol Pashinian, you must go, you have betrayed all those aims with which you came to power two and a half years ago, and, having led the country to a defeat, you must give way to someone who can effectively protect Armenian interests at this stage,” he said.
Minasian said that Armenia’s government-controlled parliament must elect a new and politically neutral prime minister who will improve relations with Russia and hold the elections within six months.