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Armenian Opposition Discussing ‘New Tactic’ For Regime Change


Armenia - Opposition parties hold an anti-government rally in Liberty Square, Yerevan, November 18, 2020.

Opposition parties jointly trying to oust Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian are discussing ways of reinvigorating their campaign, one of their leaders said on Monday.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, who coordinates the work of their Homeland Salvation Front alliance, acknowledged that they failed to attract large crowds during anti-government demonstrations staged in November and December.

“It is evident that the demand for Nikol Pashinian’s resignation is a popular demand,” Saghatelian said. “But so far we have not managed to convert that popular demand into a popular struggle.”

“We certainly need a new tactic and are now actively discussing making our activities more effective,” he added, answering questions from Facebook users at the RFE/RL studio in Yerevan.

Saghatelian dismissed suggestions that many disgruntled Armenians did not take part in the recent protests because they feel that the opposition movement is led by former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian.

“The movement is not led by individuals and the former presidents in particular,” he said, adding that Sarkisian’s Republican Party is only one of the more than a dozen opposition groups making up the alliance.

Armenia -- Oposition leaders Ishkhan Saghatelian (L) and Vazgen Manukian (C) attend a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in Yerevan, December 24, 2020.
Armenia -- Oposition leaders Ishkhan Saghatelian (L) and Vazgen Manukian (C) attend a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in Yerevan, December 24, 2020.

Among those groups are Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Saghatelian heads Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia.

The alliance blames Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the recent war with Azerbaijan and wants him to resign and hand over power to an interim government.

The prime minister has rejected the opposition demands, dismissing the anti-government rallies as an “elite revolt” not backed by most Armenians. He has offered instead to hold fresh parliamentary elections.

Saghatelian reiterated the Homeland Salvation Front’s rejection of the offer. He claimed that snap polls held by Pashinian would be “the most disgraceful in Armenia’s history.”

“It is clear to [Pashinian] that when a new government takes over in Armenia he will stand trial on treason charges. So … he would do everything to rig those elections,” said Saghatelian.

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