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Opposition Leader Favors Election Boycott


Armenia -- Opposition leader Vazgen Manukian talks to supporters at Liberty Square, Yerevan, February 15, 2021.

The Armenian opposition must boycott fresh parliamentary elections if they are held by the current government, a leader of an opposition alliance campaigning for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation said on Monday.

Vazgen Manukian, whom the Homeland Salvation Movement alliance has nominated as a caretaker prime minister, said any opposition participation in such elections would be a “disgrace.”

“That would mean legitimizing this continuing treason,” Manukian told reporters after holding another meeting with supporters at Yerevan’s Liberty Square.

The remarks contradict the position of some of the 17 opposition parties making up the alliance. The largest of them, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), has made clear that it would participate in possible snap polls organized by the current government. BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian reaffirmed this stance in an interview with the “Hraparak” newspaper published over the weekend.

Former President Robert Kocharian, who is reportedly cooperating with the Homeland Salvation Movement, has also spoken out against an election boycott.

Pashinian offered to hold elections on December 25 in response to anti-government protests sparked by the outcome of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Opposition forces dismissed the proposal, insisting on his resignation and the formation of an interim government.

The ruling My Step bloc pointed to the opposition stance when it stated on February 7 that Pashinian and his allies see no need to dissolve the current parliament. It also claimed that most Armenians do not want snap elections.

A senior member of the bloc, Ruben Rubinian, said on Monday that Pashinian’s team could consider the possibility of such a vote only if there is an agreement with the opposition.

“They can’t even reach agreements among themselves,” he said, pointing to Manukian’s remarks. “Some of those forces say one thing while others another.”

Ishkhan Saghatelian, the movement coordinator, downplayed the election-related differences within the opposition alliance.

“We have a 100 percent consensus on the ouster of this government of evil,” argued Saghatelian. “The forces making up the movement have rallied around this agenda. Apart from that, they have no obligations and agreements.”

He said that the opposition push for Pashinian’s resignation “will continue with fresh momentum.”

The Homeland Salvation Movement is scheduled to resume its anti-government demonstrations on February 20.

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