New Elections Revised Constitution Demanded at Protest

YEREVAN (Yerevan News Agency)–Thousands gathered throughout Armenia Friday to demand new parliamentary–local government and presidential elections–as well as a new constitution–during a pan-Armenian national protest day organized by the National Accord Alliance–a grouping of several major political parties and organizations including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

The largest of those gatherings took place at Yerevan’s liberty square–but the crowd was not at its full potential since state-run public transportation was halted–barring would-be protesters to attend the rally. This was seen as a blatant violation of expression and movement freedoms by the authorities.

ARF of Armenia Executive Council member Hrair Karapetian led the protest–with Haik Baboukhanian of the Constitutional Rights Union–Vartan Zournatchian of the National Progressive movement–Paruir Hayrikian of the Self-Determination Union–Davit Vartanian of the National Democratic Union and Raphael Ghazarian of the Scientific-Industrial and Civil Union of Armenia–each addressing the crowd.

All speeches expressed the people’s disillusionment in current internal Armenian affairs–and each condemned Armenia’s authorities for fostering policies which promoted social decay and crisis. Each speaker discussed social injustice–unemployment–the absence of legal rule and corruption–and emphasized the imperative for change in the Republic.

The speakers also pledged the National Accord Alliance’s commitment to fighting the aforementioned injustices.

Intermittently throughout the rally–Karapetian informed the crowd of similar protest rallies which took place in other parts of Armenia.

Karapetian also told the crowd about instances where law enforcement officers had stopped busses from Ashtarak to Yerevan carrying would-be protest participants–and similar instances with vehicles carrying people from Etchmiadzin.

At the close of the rally–Karapetian read a resolution drafted by the Alliance–which called for immediate parliamentary–local government and presidential elections and a constitutional referendum aimed at establishing rule of law in Armenia.

The resolution also called for equal participation by all political forces in the electoral process–as well as the immediate end to the ban of ARF activities in Armenia. The resolution also urged an end to politically motivated trials and the lifting of the monopoly on broadcast media outlets.

The resolution also called for talks and dialogue for resolving national issues–stating that only through honest discussion of issue–the problems would be resolved.

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