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Armenian Opposition To Keep Boycotting Parliament


Armenia - Opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelian holds a news conference in Yerevan, July 11, 2022.

A leader of Armenia’s main opposition coalition said on Monday that it has no plans to stop boycotting sessions of the parliament and trying to topple Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian with street protests.

“You can be sure that our voters do not want us to go the parliament and deal with secondary issues there,” Ishkhan Saghatelian told a news conference. “What our voters want is even more extreme and resolute actions than what we are doing now.”

“Our agenda is in the streets,” he said. “That’s how issues will be solved. We must shake up the movement and attain our declared goal. There is no other option, path anymore.”

Opposition lawmakers began the boycott in April ahead of daily antigovernment protests launched by their Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances against Pashinian’s apparent readiness to make major concessions to Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The boycott is continuing despite the ruling Civil Contract party’s threats to strip the oppositionists of their parliament seats.

Armenia - Empty seats of opposition deputies boycotting a session of parliament, Yerevan, June 14, 2022.
Armenia - Empty seats of opposition deputies boycotting a session of parliament, Yerevan, June 14, 2022.

The parliamentary majority has not yet carried out those threats. Instead, it has dismissed Saghatelian and another opposition leader, Vahe Hakobian, as the parliament’s deputy speaker and chairman of its economic committee respectively. Virtually all other opposition deputies holding leadership positions in the National Assembly have resigned in protest.

Saghatelian again did not exclude that the three dozen lawmakers representing Hayastan and Pativ Unem will themselves decide to resign from the parliament. But he said such a dramatic move would be premature at this juncture.

With Pashinian refusing to step down, the opposition decided on June 14 to hold major rallies on a weekly basis. Attendance at those rallies visibly declined this month.

Saghatelian downplayed this fact, saying that the opposition coalition is now setting up regional chapters to “eliminate shortcomings” and reinvigorate its “resistance movement.” It is also reaching out to other opposition groups and individuals critical of the government, he said.

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