Negotiations with the opposition fails, demonstrations in Armenia continue
The demonstrations that began in Armenia on 13 April against the prime minister Serzh Sargsyan are continuing even despite his resignation several days ago. Now, however, the demands are different.
There was a short break. It began on 23 April and continued the day after the country commemorated the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire recognized by Armenia and a number of countries as the genocide.
On 24 April, word got out that Nikol Pashinyan and acting PM Karen Karapetyan had agreed to meet and talk. However, in the evening, the talks were announced to have fallen through. The press service of the government released Karapetyan’s statement:
“The meeting will not take place because Nikol Pashinyan has, unilaterally, put forward new demands regarding, in particular, the format of the meeting, its agenda and media coverage. He offered a list of people who he said must take part in the negotiations on our behalf and also declared he would only negotiate his own agenda.
This is not a negotiation or a dialogue, this is only him voicing his own point of view, right down to pointing out to us who should take part in the negotiations from our side. I’ve had experience taking part in negotiations before, but I have never heard of negotiations held in such a format”.
Pashinyan had also demanded that the negotiations take place in the presence of journalists. This may be the reason his earlier talks with the then PM Serzh Sargsyan fell through.
Pashinyan has said that the Republican Party of Armenia, which is led by Serzh Sargsyan, wanted to place Karen Karapetyan in the premiership and to regain its hold on power. In order to ensure this does not happen, Pashinyan has called on the public to continue street demonstrations for yet another week.
“I think that in this situation, we must express our position and make it clear that such an event [Karapetyan serving as the country’s prime minister] cannot be part of the plans by the revolution. I think that the revolution has sent a clear message that the RPA cannot longer hold power in Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan has left, but the Republican Party must also be deprived of power in order to prevent Serzh Sargsyan from ruling the country ‘from the shadows’ through the Republican Party. We call on everyone to continue the civil disobedience movement and I think that one more step must be made in order to conclude the ‘velvlet revolution’”, Nikol Pashinyan said.
Since the morning hours, demonstrators in the streets have chanted “Reject Karen!”, which is similar to the earlier slogan of ‘Take a step and reject Serzh!’
The protesters have also been chanting ‘Nikol’ and demanding that he become prime minister.
Pashinyan himself earlier said at a press conference with the international media that he was not opposed to taking on this responsibility. The PM should be chosen by the people, and the people might as well want to see him as one, he said.
He added that the Armenian people would be able to vote the future PM in right there, at the capital’s Republic Square.
Acting PM Karapetyan commented on this:
“I don’t know of a country where a leader would be chosen in this manner. This is what elections are for. One citizen wants one candidate, and another citizen would prefer another. I suggest that a snap parliamentary election should be held, and if he is chosen by the people, then let him be the Prime Minister”.
Soon after this, Pashinyan responded by saying that Karapetyan had misunderstood him and that he and his supporters believed that the PM ought to be elected in the National Assembly in accordance with the law. But the people on the square must first approve their candidate.
Karapetyan called for a logical solution to be arrived at via the negotiation table, where the issue of parliamentary elections within the framework of the constitution could be discussed.
Edmon Marukyan, a member of Pashinyan’s Yelk party, said it would put forward Pashinyan as its candidate.
In order for him to be elected, 53 votes from MPs are needed. Yelk itself and another opposition party, Tsarukyan, have 40 votes in total. They need 13 more to make for a parliamentary majority, which would have to be found from members of the ranks of the Republican Party of Armenia or its coalition party, Dashnaktsutyun.
Marukyan also presented other plans for the near future:
“Let’s say Pashinyan is elected prime minister on the 30th. We would begin working on the Election Code, we’d change it to deprive the RPA of its administrative resources and to prevent it using them at the election, and only after this would completely fair elections be held”.
Pashinyan had earlier said that in order to hold a snap parliamentary election, changes had to be made to the Election Code.
Today, the US State Department called for a timely solution to the problem:
“We urge all sides to engage constructively, within the legal framework of the Armenian constitution, to ensure a peaceful transition of power that follows the rule of law. We look forward to working closely with a new government on the many areas of shared interest between the United States and Armenia. As a friend and partner to Armenia, we commend the Armenian people for engaging in dialogue to forge their sovereign future through democratic and peaceful means”.
JAMnews continues to follow events as they develop in Armenia.