Republican Party of Armenia Leaders Grill Pashinyan ahead of Tuesday’s Vote
YEREVAN—Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan late on Monday warned that the Republican Party of Armenia is attempting to sabotage Tuesday’s parliament vote for a new prime minister, which will take place with Pashinyan as the only candidate.
In a Facebook Live broadcast after midnight local time, Pashinyan said that he received information that during a late night meeting led by former prime minister Serzh Sarkisian, the Republican Party of Armenia has decided to sabotage the election of a prime minister. The Republican Party of Armenia earlier had announced that they would not hamper the “election of the people’s candidate,” and also said that they will not put forward their own candidate.
Pashinyan, who had called a “Victory Rally” for 11 a.m. urged his supporters to gather at Republic Square to thwart what he called “Serzh Sarkisian’s and the Republican Party’s new plan,” saying the ruling party is trying to regain its hold on the country’s leadership.
While Pashinyan had declared Monday as a “Day of Silence” ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the political developments were anything but silent.
Earlier in the day, Pashinyan met with the Republican Party of Armenia’s parliamentary faction at the National Assembly building, where the ruling party lawmakers grilled the prime minister candidate on issues that were for the most part Russia-centric.
The brunt of the questions from Republican Party of Armenia lawmakers focused on two Russian-led initiatives—the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union—and how Pashinyan plans to deal with those entities given his vocal opposition to both.
“It is not a secret that I voted against joining the EEU,” said Pashinyan in response to a question from the parliament’s deputy speaker and Republican Party of Armenia spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov.
“But Armenia is an EEU member state now and, as politicians, we should take facts into consideration…this should be the approach of anyone who is considering the best interests of Armenia. I think drastic changes in foreign policy would be dangerous for Armenia,” added Pashinyan.
Sharmazanov, as well as his Republican Party of Armenia colleagues Armen Ashotyan, Samvel Fermanyan and Gagik Melikian, through their questions, were attempting to prove they were right and Pashinyan is wrong, and forcing the prime minister candidate to praise Russia and the foreign policy initiatives carried out by the Sarkisian administration.
At one point, Pashinyan was pressured to reveal his choices to fill cabinet posts, to which he responded that per Armenia’s Constitution, the prime minister has 15 days to form a government, which he said will be done through negotiations with other political parties and forces and by doing thorough assessment of human resources.
“The formation of the new cabinet should be a tool to resolve the political crisis. The cabinet will be formed according to what the political landscape looks like tomorrow. We should strive to form a unity government. The law stipulates that the newly elected prime minister has 15 days to form a new government; our laws do not say that we first name the cabinet members and then we elect the prime minister,” said Pashinyan.
Wess Mitchell, a senior State Department official phoned Pashinyan on Monday to discuss the political developments in Armenia and to voice discuss “issues relating to a peaceful and legal resolution” to the current situation in Armenia, according to a brief Facebook post by Pashinyan, who did not elaborate on the details of the conversation.
“The United States continues to monitor closely the situation in Armenia,” said a spokeswoman for the department, Heather Nauert over the weekend. “As a friend of Armenia, we urge all parties to engage in good faith negotiations on the formation of a new government in accordance with the Constitution, and to reach a resolution that reflects the interests of all Armenians.”
“We support the ongoing efforts of the Office of President [Armen] Sarkissian to facilitate dialogue between all parties. We continue to commend the peaceful nature of the demonstrations, and trust that the security forces and those exercising their right to peaceful protest will remain committed to non-violence in the days to come,” Nauert added in a statement.