Organisers say the protest will be ongoing and its aim is to stop the elections for prime minister slated for 17 April
Photo: Lilian Galstyan, JAMNews
A large-scale demonstration began in Yerevan today against the third and ex-president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, taking on the position of prime minister.
The organisers say the protest will be ongoing and that participants plan to hold a round-the-clock demonstration including both mobile and sit-in protests.
The ruling Republican Party of Armenia, lead by Serzh Sargsyan, intends to put forward his candidacy for the position of the prime minister. Armenia recently switched to a parliamentary form of governance, which will make the prime minister the head of the state.
Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency came to an end on 9 April when Armen Sargsyan took up the position. The next day, on 10 April, the first deputy chairman of the Republican Party, the acting head of state Karen Karapetyan, stated that Serzh Sargsyan will be put forward as a candidate for the position of prime minister.
The right to put forward a candidate as prime minister is, according to the constitution, given to the parliamentary majority, which is currently the Republican Party of Armenia. The party has 53 MPs out of 101. Consequently, regardless of the vote of the other three factions, the ruling party can ensure the victory of its own candidate.
The opposition says that constitutional reforms in Armenia were carried out with the intent of extending Serzh Sargsyan’s hold on power. Sargsyan had already held the presidency for two terms, and was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term. Now, he has the ability to continue ruling the country, only via a different post.
Opposition MP and leader of the Civil Contract party, Nikol Pashinyan, began the protest movement two years ago with an initiative called ‘My Step’. He walked some 200km with supporters to the largest populated areas in the country, from Gyumri to the capital, calling on people to resist Sargsyan’s return to power.
Arriving in Yerevan, participants of the march began a demonstration on Freedom Square in downtown Yerevan. The protest will continue until 17 April, when elections for the prime minister will take place in the National Assembly.
“Serzh Sargsyan has left, he is no longer president. We cannot allow for him to return to power. We are telling the nation: step up and overthrow Serzh. He is concerned only with the welfare of his family. For Serzh Sargsyan, there are no citizens and no nation in Armenia. His mafioso administration has lost all sense of boundaries. The citizens of Armenia will be victorious in the end,” Nikol Pashinyan said at the demonstration.
How the opposition will fight against the appointment of Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister
This is the most widely-discussed issue in Armenia right now: how will the opposition fight against the appointment of Serzh Sargsyan asf prime minister. Sargsyan is the only candidate put forward by his party, and it is not the citizens of the country who will vote, but rather his team which is the majority in parliament, none of which will refuse to vote for him.
Opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan says that the will of the nation can affect the voting of the ruling party. He says that if they can surround the National Assembly, they can interrupt the voting process. According to the constitution, if voting for the prime minister fails twice, the parliament is dismissed and new parliamentary elections are scheduled.
“We need to solve this concrete problem: Serzh Sargsyan should not become the PM of Armenia. We must block him at every point possible. In Yerevan he must feel surrounded. We must block him, and not allow the MPs to vote and we must not allow him to get into the building of the National Assembly,” said Nikol Pashinyan.
During the protest, he expressed hope that the police will conduct themselves accordingly and hopefully in favour of the demonstration’s participants. However, Pashinyan called on all participants to remain civil with the police because they are not the enemy and they too are citizens, he says.
“I will not leave you for a second; I will be with you, here, on the square and elsewhere. If the police attack, our answer is passive resistance. If they come to chase us away, we will not break ranks, we will stand shoulder to shoulder,” Nikol Pashinyan said.