Tsarukyan says his faction will support the “people’s candidate” while the Republican Party of Armenia offered a tacit mea culpa and separately said it would not introduce its own candidate for the prime minister position.
YEREVAN—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation on Saturday signaled its support for opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister of Armenia “should he be nominated” during a special session of parliament scheduled for Tuesday, at which time the legislature will vote for a new prime minister.
On Friday, the ARF (Dashnaktsutyun) Supreme Council of Armenia issued an announcement calling on parliamentary factions to “cooperatively form a common agenda and to agree on a single candidate for prime minister, who is trusted by the people, and who will form a government and present a program of solidarity,”
Based on this announcement, the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Arsen Hambardzumyan told Azatutyun.am’s Armenian service that his party would support Pashinyan, in the event that his name is nominated.
“The Dashnaktsutyun has no final decision yet, but we believe that in the context of our statement made yesterday we will support Nikol Pashinyan’s candidacy in the event of his nomination,” Hambardzumyan, told Azatutyun Saturday.
On Wednesday, the ARF announced that it was pulling out of its governing coalition with the Republican Party of Armenia whose leader and former president Serzh Sarkisian resigned as Armenia’s prime minister on Monday following a dramatic meeting a day before when he walked out on talks with Pashinyan, who has been leading a popular movement for regime change in Armenia since April 13, when he began leading peaceful protests against Sarkisian’s candidacy as prime minister. The protests reflecting the people’s dissatisfaction with the ruling regime exponentially grew in number as Sarkisian was voted as prime minister on April 17.
The protest movement reached a crescendo on Sunday when after Sarkisian walked out of the meeting with Pashinyan, the latter and two of his parliamentary colleagues were arrested in a short-sighted effort to quell protests that backfired with crowds eclipsing 100,000 gathered at Yerevan’s Republic Square to demand an end to Sarkisian’s rule and calling for the release of Pashinyan and his fellow legislators.
Also on Saturday, businessman Gagik Tsarukyan, who leads the second largest parliamentary faction, signaled his support for Pashinyan’s candidacy. saying he and his allies will back “the people’s candidate” during Tuesday’s vote.
“Nobody has the moral right to misappropriate the people’s victory,” Tsarukyan told his Kentron TV channel. “The people must decide, nominate a candidate. Together with my team, I will be voting for the people’s candidate. We are not going to nominate our candidate.”
Asked whether that means he is endorsing Pashinyan, he said: “The people’s candidate is Nikol, [Pashinyan allies] Sasun [Mikaelyan] and Ararat [Mirzoyan.] Whoever is nominated by the people, we will unanimously vote for the people’s candidate.”
Tsarukyan also spoke of his “very positive” attitude towards the protest movement that was launched by Pashinyan two weeks ago.
The Republican Party of Armenia, which holds 58 seats in the 105-member parliament announced Saturday that it will not nominate a candidate for the post of prime minister, with its spokesperson, Eduard Shamazanov saying: “Who will we vote for? That depends on who will be nominated and what programs they will propose.”
Tsarukyan’s faction holds 31 seats in parliament, while Pashinyan’s Yelk alliance and the ARF have nine and seven seats respectively.
At a rally in Vanadzor, Armenia’s third largest city, Pashinyan told the thousands who had gathered there on Saturday of the Republican Party of Armenia’s decision, signaling that he would take up their proposal for a meeting, while meeting with other political forces ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Armenia on Saturday offered an uncharacteristic mea culpa, copping to “mistakes” the party has made in underestimating the opposition.
“The main issue from our party was not realizing the danger of the political monopolization by our party, the Republican party,” said acting Justice Minister Davit Harutunyan on Saturday.
Harutunyan explained that within the context of developing a country that is in a very complex geopolitical situation, monopolization by a singe party allows to advance more definitively, “however, that cannot continue for a long time.”
Such monopolization, according to Harutuynyan “means that the Republican party did not understand the imperative for strengthening the role of the opposition and that a strong opposition means having a strong country and a strong government.”
“I believed that was our main mistake,” said Harutunyan, adding that “by accepting our mistaken we must not fall in the water well for a second time. We must not trade one dictator with another.”