The 17 opposition parties in Armenia, which have been staging protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, announced on Thursday that Vazgen Manukyan, Armenia’s first prime minister, is their candidate to lead a proposed “national accord” government.
The opposition parties, which have come together as the “Homeland Salvation Movement,” have formed a council chaired by Manukyan, announced Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia Chairman Ishkhan Saghatelyan on Thursday after the council met.
In addition to serving as Armenia’s first prime minister, Manukyan was also defense minister and for many years served as the chairman of the Public Council, an office established during Serzh Sarkisian’s presidency, which advocated for the interests of the public.
While Manukyan will serve as the chair of the newly-formed council, Saghatelyan was named as it coordinator.
The Homeland Salvation Council also discussed a roadmap, a transition plan and programs to contain the current crisis, Saghatelyan said.
The Homeland Salvation Council is comprised of representatives of 17 opposition political parties that opposed the November 9 announcement that ended the war, as well as 15 intellectuals and public figures who enjoy the public’s trust.
The 74-year-old Manukyan has had a storied career since being one of the founding members of the Karabakh Committee in 1988. On December 10 of that year, he along with other members of the Karabakh committee were arrested and spent six months in Moscow’s Matroskaya Tishina prison.
He was the first chairman of the co-founding board of the Armenian National Movement party. From 1990 to 1995 he was a deputy of the Supreme Council of Armenia, and from 1995 to 2007 he was a member of Armenia’s National Assembly.
Manukyan was Armenia’s first prime minister before independence from 1990 to 1991. Days after the independence he resigned from the position and along with other activists formed the National Democratic Union Party.
In September 1992, he was named Armenia’s State Minister, later assuming the title of defense minister when the ministry was established. In this capacity he was instrumental in forming Armenia’s Armed Forces and charting a new course for the Karabakh war, leading it to victory.
In 1996, Manukyan ran for president against Levon Ter Petrosian. After he emerged as the clear victor in that race, Ter Petrosian ordered the army into the streets of Yerevan blockading Manukyan in the parliament complex. He conceded the election and continued to serve in the National Assembly.
From March 2009 to December 2019 he was the Chairman of the Public Council of the Republic of Armenia.