Armenian political crisis – talks stall, protesters march on
The Armenian political crisis shows no sign of abating as the authorities and opposition struggle to find common ground.
The most recent spark was lit by the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, who demanded the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan for his alleged failure in the second Karabakh war, which resulted in the loss of significant territories for Armenia.
The prime minister called the statement of the General Staff an attempt at a military coup and pledges to dismiss its head.
After the statement of the military, two large-scale rallies were held in Yerevan simultaneously – the united opposition parties and the supporters of the prime minister.
To find ways out of the deadlock, the parliamentary opposition proposed to hold a meeting of the Council of the National Assembly on February 26. But it did not take place due to the lack of a quorum – the representatives of the ruling My Step bloc did not appear.
President Armen Sargsyan has met with the Chief of the General Staff and begun consultations with the heads of parliamentary factions and representatives of the opposition, united in the Movement for the Salvation of the Motherland.
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Overnight in tents near the parliament building
Representatives of the opposition Movement to Save the Motherland spent the night on Baghramyan Avenue, where the parliament building and the presidential residence are located. Oppositionists pitched tents and put up stoves right in front of the National Assembly.
On the morning of February 26, the leader of the movement and opposition candidate for the post of prime minister Vazgen Manukyan said that the night was calm. He called on as many people as possible to join their struggle so that the movement would take on a nationwide character. Only in this case, the opposition says, will it be possible to achieve the resignation of the prime minister.
Ruling bloc absent at parliamentary debate
Opposition factions proposed to discuss the situation at the meeting of the parliament council and convene an extraordinary plenary session to abolish martial law in Armenia, which was introduced at the start of the second Karabakh war in September 2020.
The meeting did not take place due to the lack of a quorum. The ruling majority has enough mandates to make or fail any rulings.
In connection with the boycott of the ruling bloc, the leader of the opposition Enlightened Armenia party, Edmon Marukyan, stated that the parliament leadership, represented by Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, does nothing to overcome the political crisis and refuses to enter into dialogue:
“This is a disrespectful attitude towards everyone. This behavior allows me to say that the National Assembly does not have a chairman. The situation in the country is extremely tense, nervous, I would say. You can’t leave it like that. We need political discussion.”
After the failure in parliament, the opposition and their supporters went to the presidential residence demanding not to sign a decree on the dismissal of the head of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan.
“We must demand that the president not succumb to Pashinyan’s blackmail, clearly formulate our objections and apply to the Constitutional Court to discuss the constitutionality of the prime minister’s motion [to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff],” said movement coordinator Ishkhan Saghatelyan.
President met with oppositionists and heads of parliamentary factions
President Armen Sargsyan held consultations with representatives of parliamentary factions, including the ruling My Step bloc. He began to hold such meetings in the fall of last year, when the political crisis first arose in the country. The president is thus trying to find a way out of it.
He also received the leaders of the opposition Movement to Save the Motherland. The details of the meeting were reported by one of its leaders, the ex-head of the National Security Service of Armenia Artur Vanetsyan:
“There is a consensus that the situation is extremely difficult and there is a threat of loss of statehood, and concrete and prompt decisions are needed to get out of this situation. Therefore, all forces must join forces to get out of this situation.”