Opposition bloc plans to protest against Sargsyan

Thu 29 June 2017 10:41 GMT | 14:41 Local Time

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With the end of Sargsyan’s presidency, Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary system of government.

A leader of the opposition Yelk alliance warned on Wednesday that it could stage street protests if President Serzh Sargsyan decides to become Armenia’s prime minister after serving out his final term next April, AzVision.az reports citing the Armenian media.

“We will try to use all means at our disposal to prevent such a development,” Aram Sargsyan(no relation), told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “In terms of organizing the public, getting [people] to the streets …it should be clear over time whether our public is ready to take to the streets for that cause.”

He said Yelk is ready to lead such protests because it believes that President Sargsyan's possible decision to extend his decade-long rule would “cost our country very dearly.” “Those would be years of stagnation and hopelessness, and everything must be done to prevent such developments with as little upheaval as possible,” added the veteran opposition politician.

Another Yelk leader, Nikol Pashinian, also warned Sargsyan against becoming prime minister when he spoke in the Armenian parliament last week. “The ball is the public’s court,” said Pashinian. “This scenario will be thwarted only if the [ruling] Republicans see that the people … would take to the streets and not allow that disgraceful process.”

Another opposition leader, Raffi Hovannisian, likewise claimed over the weekend that such a scenario could trigger an anti-government “velvet revolution” in Armenia. Hovannisian said that his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, which failed to win any parliament seats in recent general elections, stands ready to join forces with other opposition groups to lead such a protest movement.

With the end of Sargsyan’s presidency, Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary system of government, meaning that its next president will have largely ceremonial powers. Sargsyan has still not clarified what he plans to do after April 2018. He has said only that he would like to “play a role, in some capacity, in ensuring the security of our people.”

Senior members of Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) have been coy about his political future. One of them, Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian, on Wednesday scoffed at the opposition threats to organize anti-government rallies next year.

“Those speaking of a velvet revolution have for years said [it will happen] tomorrow,” Harutiunian told reporters. “Now they are at least postponing it by several months and that is welcome.”




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