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Armenian PM Dismissive Of Opposition Protests


ARMENIA - People attend an opposition rally to demand the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan following the signing of a deal to end the military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh, in Yerevan, November 18, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian dismissed on Wednesday opposition demands for his resignation, saying that they are not backed by most Armenians.

“I think that the question of a government formed by the people can only be resolved by the expression of the people’s will. The fact is that the calls voiced by the opposition are not receiving the backing of the Armenian society,” he told the TASS news agency in an interview.

Pashinian again signaled no plans to hold in the coming weeks or months fresh parliamentary elections demanded by the Armenian opposition. He said he will focus instead on the implementation of a six-month plan of government actions aimed at “restoring stability” in Armenia in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“After that we will consult with our society, people and political forces and make a decision regarding further events and steps, regarding what to do next,” he said.

Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gives a speech in the Armenian parliament.
Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gives a speech in the Armenian parliament.

Pashinian’s 15-point “roadmap” and ongoing cabinet reshuffle have been dismissed as a gimmick by opposition parties. More than a dozen of them launched street protests in Yerevan following the announcement of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the fighting in Karabakh on November 10.

The opposition forces blame Pashinian for the Armenian side’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan. They are seeking his resignation, the formation of an interim government and conduct of snap parliamentary elections.

Pashinian’s political allies note that only a few thousand people have attended the anti-government rallies.

Organizers of the protests include Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian’s Fatherland party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Their most recent rally was held in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Saturday.

Pashinian is also facing resignation calls by other opposition groups, some prominent public figures and intellectuals. President Armen Sarkissian has likewise called for fresh elections, saying that they are need to “save the country from upheavals.”

Meanwhile, Vanetsian said that the opposition will continue to hold rallies and “civil disobedience actions” in Yerevan and other parts of the country.

“We are going to use all instruments allowed by the law,” the former security chief told reporters. “All of Nikol Pashinian’s actions are aimed at prolonging his rule by another. He has no other goals. He wants to keep and enjoy power.”

Vanetsian also said that his party and its opposition allies will name soon an interim prime minister which they believe should govern the country until the pre-term elections. He refused to say who that candidate will be.

“I can only say that someone who doesn’t have popular support cannot be prime minister,” he added.

Vanetsian spoke as he visited a Dashnaktsutyun leader, Gegham Manukian, and a former Constitutional Court judge, Kim Balayan, holding a hunger strike outside the main government building in Yerevan to demand Pashinian’s resignation.

Pashinian’s press secretary, Mane Gevorgian, emerged from the building to talk to Manukian and urge him to end the hunger strike.

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