Pashinian said opposition forces staging the protests and blaming him for the Armenian side’s defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh war to try to install a “puppet government” not backed by most voters. He was also dismissive of resignation calls made by President Armen Sarkissian, prominent public figures, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the heads of dozens of local communities.
“Why do those political forces and representatives of the elite keep proposing scenarios which pursue only one goal: to leave the people out of the [political] process and do so irreversibly?” he said during his government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament.
He claimed that the Armenian opposition is not actually demanding snap parliamentary elections.
Opposition parties have repeatedly said that such elections must be held within a year by an interim government to be formed after Pashinian’s resignation. Sixteen of them joined forces to launch anti-government demonstrations following the announcement of the ceasefire that stopped the Karabakh war on November 10.
The opposition coalition rallied supporters outside the National Assembly compound in Yerevan as Pashinian and members of his cabinet answered questions from lawmakers. The rally came one day after the prime minister ignored their ultimatum to step down or face a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience.”
Ishkhan Saghatelian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), insisted that Pashinian has lost popular support and legitimacy. “There is a pan-Armenian discontent and a popular demand for Nikol’s ouster,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier in the day.
Still, Saghatelian, whose party is a key member of the opposition alliance, did not deny that attendance at the ongoing opposition demonstrations is a far cry from the 2018 mass protests that brought Pashinian to power.
“There are many citizens who believe that Nikol Pashinian must go but lack trust in political forces standing on the podium and our common candidate [for interim prime minister,]” he said. “That is why we are telling our citizens that this is not a struggle for bringing us to power. This is a struggle for saving our homeland.”
Only one of the 16 opposition parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), is represented in the current parliament. The second parliamentary opposition party, Bright Armenia (LHK), has so far declined to join their campaign or endorse the interim premier nominated by them. But the LHK too insists on Pashinian’s resignation.