YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian on Friday reaffirmed his intention to declare himself Armenia’s president on Tuesday and urged supporters to attend his “inauguration” in Yerevan’s Liberty Square in droves.
Holding a fresh rally in the square, he again warned President Serzh Sarkisian against being sworn in for a second term on that day. “Woe to those who will take a false oath on April 9. We will not forgive them,” he declared.
Hovannisain again urged Armenians from all over the country to converge on Liberty Square, attend the “proclamation and inauguration of a new Armenia” and “flush out these dirty authorities” on April 9. “We will be coming with families and friends full of confidence … We will jointly take the oath,” he said.
Hovannisian said the ceremony will be followed by daylong demonstrations in the capital. He did not clarify whether the crowd led by him will march to the presidential palace.
The opposition leader also warned the authorities against blocking roads leading to Yerevan to keep residents of Armenian regions from joining his April 9 rallies. They must also refrain from deploying army and special police units, he said.
Hovannisian embarked on a four-day “national enlistment” campaign to recruit citizens for the inauguration of a New Armenia, which is scheduled to begin at 11am on April 9 at Liberty Square, according to an official release from the Heritage Party.
Hovannisian ended a 21-day hunger strike Sunday and attended Easter Mass at Holy Etchmiadzin.
On Monday, Hovannisian traveled to Kapan, Goris, Sisian, Yeghegnadzor, Ararat, Goravan, and Artashat.
“On April 9 we shall make history together at Liberty Square,” Hovannisian told hundreds of supporters gathered in Ararat. He added that a team of lawyers and members of parliament will be on call that day, in the event that roadblocks prevent the free passage of citizens from the regions to the capital.
Hovannisian supporters and opponents scuffled in Kapan on Monday after a local woman interrupted Hovannisian’s speech at the rally, saying that he is only hungry for power and “has done nothing for the people.” She was backed by several other government loyalists who demanded that he leave Kapan, reported RFE/RL.
The jeers resulted in a brief tussle between opposition supporters and the individuals whom Hovannisian branded as government “provocateurs.” Police officers at the scene stood by and looked on before declaring that the rally is illegal because it was not sanctioned by local authorities.
Hovannisian scheduled the Kapan rally late last week after Synik governor Surik Khachatrian reportedly threatened to “smash Raffi’s head” because of what he called a falsification of Armenian history by the opposition leader’s father, prominent U.S.-Armenian historian Richard Hovannisian.
Hovannisian challenged the notoriously violent governor to confront him at Kapan’s central square. He said on Monday that Khachatrian chose instead to try to disrupt his rally.
Khachatrian denied any involvement in the incident. “He was the one who had something to tell me,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone. “He should have come to my office instead of inviting me to a debate watched by several dozen people.”