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Opposition Leader Looks Forward To Renewed Protests


Armenia - Opposition leader Vazgen Manukian addresses supporters at Liberty Square in Yerevan, February 12, 2021

An alliance of 17 Armenian opposition parties will step up its campaign for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation with an upcoming rally in Yerevan, one of its leaders said on Friday.

The alliance called the Homeland Salvation Movement blames Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10. It staged a series of demonstrations later in November and December in a bid to force him to hand over power to an interim government.

The protests did not attract large crowds, leading Pashinian to insist that he still has a popular mandate to govern the country.

Representatives of the alliance said last week that the protests will resume soon. The movement coordinator, Ishkhan Saghatelian, announced on Monday that the first rally will be held in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on February 20.

Vazgen Manukian, a veteran politician nominated by the alliance as a caretaker prime minister, looked forward to the “big rally,” saying that the pause in the opposition campaign has “lasted a bit longer than it should have.”

“The movement has discussed what it has done before,” Manukian told reporters. “I won’t say now what it found right and what it found wrong. But it has drawn lessons and I think that with the February 20 rally it will continue its activities with much greater vigor.”

“There are several hundred thousand people who are terribly and emotionally unhappy,”
he said. “One million other people are also unhappy with Nikol Pashinian but don’t bother to participate in all this, feeling broken for various reasons. We must manage to get these people out on the streets in order to have a full-scale, specular popular movement.”

Manukian said the opposition should also strive to “break” and “discredit” what he described as Pashinian’s power base: senior members of the ruling My Step bloc and high-ranking police officers.

Pashinian expressed readiness on December 25 to hold snap parliamentary elections to end the political crisis in the country. Opposition leaders continued to insist on his resignation.

In a joint statement issued on February 7, Pashinian and My Step’s parliamentary group spoke out against the conduct of such elections, saying that it is not backed by most Armenians.

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