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Armenian opposition announces ‘non-stop’ protests 

23 February 2021
Video still from A1+.

Opposition leaders have announced what they say will be ‘non-stop’ civil disobedience actions. The morning following a large march on Monday, 25 people were detained after trying to prevent Nikol Pashinyan from entering the government building.

The protests are being spearheaded by the Homeland Salvation Movement, a coalition of 16 opposition parties, including the former ruling Republican Party and Prosperous Armenia, the largest opposition party in parliament. 

The coalition had previously held a large protest on Saturday during which opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan, who is seeking to replace Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister, stated that the opposition seeks to force Pashinyan’s resignation either through street demonstrations or through ‘rebellion’. 

Any moment, it may be today, it may be in a week, it may be in 10 days, we must be ready to take power by rebelling with lightning speed,’ Manukyan said. He had previously called for an uprising to oust Pashinyan in late January. 

[Read more: Armenian opposition leader calls for uprising but ‘without violence’]

A criminal case under the criminal statute barring ‘public calls for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order’ has been launched by Armenia’s Prosecutor General in response to Manukyan’s comments. As of yet, no charges have been made. 

Manukyan stated that he does not seek to remain in power, but only to be a transitional Prime Minister and organise elections that will be held one year from when he takes office. He has rejected calls for elections taking place while Pashinyan remains Prime Minister and said if such an election were to happen he would boycott it. 

Other political figures who have publicly stated their goal to replace Pashinyan as Armenia’s Prime Minister include, opposition Bright Armenia party head Edmon Marukyan,  former Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan, and Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharyan. The latter two have expressed their support for Saturday’s protest and for the ‘non-stop’ protest campaign. 

[Read more: Robert Kocharyan: ‘We will win Armenia’s next election ]

Despite months of political turmoil since the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and the signing of the tripartite peace agreement in November, Nikol Pashinyan has rebuffed demands for his resignation. He also does not plan to hold elections in 2020, claiming that there is ‘no demand’ for them ‘from the general public’. 

 

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