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Armenian Opposition Designates ‘Interim PM’


Armenia -- Vazgen Manukian.

Opposition parties campaigning for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation have chosen a man who they believe should replace him and govern Armenia until snap general elections.

The proposed interim prime minister, Vazgen Manukian, is a veteran politician who had served as the country’s first post-Communist premier from 1990-1991.

Manukian was nominated ahead of a fresh anti-government rally which the 17 opposition parties plan to hold in Yerevan on Saturday.

They launched street protests on November 10 immediately after the announcement of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the war in Karabakh won by Azerbaijan.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the opposition forces, including Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), again denounced the ceasefire agreement as a “national disaster and treason.”

They pledged to step up their campaign for Pashinian’s resignation, the formation of an interim government and the conduct of fresh elections. They said Manukian should lead that government in view of his political experience and “ability to hold productive negotiations.”

According to the statement, the caretaker prime minister designated by the opposition would hold the elections within a year and pledge not to participate in them or seek to hold on to power.

The statement added that the opposition coalition will announce its further actions at Saturday’s “big rally.”

Armenia - Opposition protesters block a street in Yerevan to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation, December 3, 2020.
Armenia - Opposition protesters block a street in Yerevan to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation, December 3, 2020.

The anti-government demonstrations held by it last month attracted only a few thousand people. Pashinian and his political allies say their relatively poor attendance testifies to a lack of popular support for regime change.

Pashinian insisted on November 27 that most Armenians continue to support him. In a televised address to the nation, he accused his political opponents of trying to “spread chaos” in the country with the help of “external forces known to you.”

Meanwhile, small groups of opposition activists mostly affiliated with Dashnaktsutyun continued to block streets in downtown Yerevan on Thursday evening to demand Pashinian’s resignation. The protests briefly disrupted traffic in much of the city center. Riot police forcibly unblocked the streets, detaining dozens of protesters.

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