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Armenian Opposition Alliance To Resume Anti-Government Protests


Armenia -- Opposition supporters demonstrate outside the main government building in Yerevan to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation, December 12, 2020.

Leaders of a coalition of more than a dozen Armenian opposition parties said on Wednesday that it will resume soon street protests aimed at forcing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to resign.

“There will be civil disobedience actions -- marches, demonstrations, rallies -- so that we oust this government of evil under popular pressure,” said Ishkhan Saghatelian, the coordinator of the Homeland Salvation Movement. He did not go into details.

The alliance blames Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the recent war with Azerbaijan and wants him to hand over power to an interim government headed by one of its leaders, Vazgen Manukian. The prime minister has rejected the opposition demands and has offered to hold fresh parliamentary elections instead.

The opposition forces failed to attract large crowds for their street protests staged in Yerevan in November and December. Saghatelian said last week that they are now discussing ways of reinvigorating their campaign.

The top leaders of the alliance met late on Tuesday as part of those discussions. They included Saghatelian, Manukian, former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian, Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian and former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian.

“The movement will continue protest actions at top gear and use its entire toolkit for fighting against the authorities,” Vanetsian told reporters. He said that the anti-government protests were suspended because of a cold weather, rather than differences among the alliance leaders.

Saghatelian acknowledged that they are divided over their participation in snap elections that would be held by the current government. But he downplayed those differences, saying that the opposition forces remain united in their attitude towards Pashinian’s administration.

Kocharian said last week that he and his political allies will participate in the elections if they are organized by the current government. The BHK and Vanetsian’s Fatherland are also against boycotting such polls. The boycott is favored by Sarkisian’s Republican Party.

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