Facing growing pressure to hand over power to Nikol Pashinian, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said that it is ready to discuss “any issue” with the opposition leader.
In an announcement late on April 25, the HHK also indicated that it will replace longtime ruler Serzh Sarkisian, who remains the party chairman since resigning his post as prime minister this week, with a new leader.
The HHK’s announcement came after party members met with Sarkisian and acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian to discuss the political crisis in Armenia.
It said that Sarkisian, who served two presidential terms from 2008-18, gave “more detailed explanations” for his decision to step down just six days after being elected prime minister by the HHK-controlled parliament.
It said the ex-president urged HHK lawmakers to make “stability and the country’s security” their chief priority.
According to the statement, the “second half of the meeting” was held in Sarkisian’s absence and focused on the government’s standoff with protesters led by Pashinian.
The participants agreed to declare that “the HHK faction is prepared to discuss any issues with all sides without preconditions,” it said.
The HHK meeting came as Pashinian, who leads the opposition Civil Contract party, held another big rally in Yerevan to demand that the parliament appoint him as interim prime minister and call snap elections
“We demand an explicit and unconditional capitulation of the Republican Party to the people,” he said.
Pashinian warned that his supporters will “blockade” the parliament building and the prime minister’s office in Yerevan if the HHK majority in the National Assembly moves to install Karapetian as prime minister. He accused Karapetian of illegally occupying the country’s top executive post.
“We are saying at this [Republic] Square that the Armenian people have a candidate for prime minister and the National Assembly factions must reckon with this political reality and nominate that candidate by consensus,” Pashinian said, clearly referring to himself. Pashinian urged supporters to continue to demonstrate and block streets and roads on April 26.
HHK’s move to open broad discussions with Pashinian came after the party suffered a blow with the departure of a junior partner from its governing coalition on April 25.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, also known as Dashnaktsutyun, said in a statement that the parliament should elect a prime minister who “enjoys the people’s confidence.”
An opposition bloc also announced on April 25 that it would officially nominate Pashinian as the next prime minister.
Tens Of Thousands Protest In Yerevan, Other Armenian Cities Against Sarkisian As New Prime Minister in the capital city Yerevan and spread protests in other cities including Gyumri and Vanadzor, according to local media.
Protest leader Nikol Pashinian, after announcing the start of a “peaceful people’s revolution” in Armenia, told the rally in Yerevan that “Sarkisian lacks legitimacy and has earned the hatred of Armenians.”
Protesters are rallies against the government wants to have fair free election and party in rules from last twenty years has not been able to fulfill the dreams of the people. Russian official said we shall not interfere in the velvet revolution of the states.
The demonstrators massed in Yerevan’s Republic Square late on April 17, holding Armenian flags and chanting “Armenia without Serzh.”
Protests continued and spread across the country, closing transport routes without notice. Many protesters have been detained, or dispersed by law enforcement. Due to the unpredictable nature of the protests and heavy police presence, there could be a potential for violence.
Police explicit warnings that they would act to quell the unrest, hundreds of demonstrators blocked streets in central Yerevan on April 17, a day after dozens of protesters were hurt in clashes with police barring the path to parliament.
Yervean’s France Square, a deputy police chief handed Pashinian a notice warning that protesters had violated legislation on public gatherings and that the authorities had decided to stop the demonstrations.
Pashinian tore up the warning without reading it and declared that a campaign of “total disobedience” had begun. Nearby, a group of protesters were camped out in front of a riot-police line on a central street, with rolls of razor wire separating the two sides.
“I declare today the launching of a velvet [revolution], a peaceful people’s revolution,” Pashinian, wearing a camouflage T-shirt, said as Sarkisian addressed lawmakers from the legislature’s podium before a vote that seemed certain to make him prime minister.
“A revolutionary situation is brewing across the country. Demonstrators are blocking streets and…highways in the cities of Gyumri, Ijevan, Vanadzor, Kapan, and Metsamor,” he added. “People are not going to work, mass strikes have begun.”
Inputs from /www.rferl.org