- Vazgen Manukyan, the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, addresses the gathering
- Opposition forces gave Pashinyan until Tuesday to resign
Armenia’s opposition forces saw the largest turnout since street protests started on November 10, with thousands gathering at Armenia’s Freedom Square on Saturday to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation for signing the November 9 agreement that ended the Karabakh war, but forces concessions of large swaths of territory in Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
Following speeches by opposition representatives who now call themselves the “National Accord Council,” including Vazgen Manukyan, who on Thursday was named as the council’s candidate for prime minister of National Accord government, the crowd marched toward the prime minister’s headquarters at 26 Baghramyan Avenue.
There, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Ishkhan Sagatelyan read the opposition’s ultimatum saying, “Nikol must go. Period.” he said.
“If he does not go by noon Tuesday, we will remove him. Together we must resolve this issue this week and put an end to it once and for all,” Saghatelyan said, warning that the opposition will will launch a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience.”
Pashinyan has ignored the opposition’s calls for his resignation, which would pave the way for the establishment of a national accord government that will organize snap parliamentary elections. These sentiments have also been expressed on two occasions by President Armen Sarkisian, who said last month that the overwhelming majority of the political forces, public figures and Diaspora organizational representatives he had consulted believed fresh parliamentary elections would begin to resolve the national crisis.
Instead, hours before the scheduled opposition rally, Pashinyan addressed the nation in a Facebook Live broadcast, accusing the opposition of trying to seize power illegally.
In his remarks Saturday, Pashinyan stressed that Armenia’s last parliamentary elections, held in December 2018, when his My Step bloc won a clear majority, were widely recognized as democratic.
President Sarkissian was quick to respond by issuing his own appeal to the public, in which he said that Armenia is in a “deep post-war crisis,” and adding that the government could not act within the 2018 public mindset since “today’s reality is completely different.”
In his first speech as the opposition’s office candidate for prime minister, Manukyan said, “We could have prevented the war. We could have won the war. We could have ended the war earlier and with minor losses.”
He emphasized, however, that his “national accord” administration would would not walk away from the November 9 agreement, but rather it would seek to ensure that the agreement’s ambiguous provisions are interpreted in Armenia’s favor.
Manukyan also warned that there are forces in Armenia that are operating under the “foreign influence.” He said we must rid Armenia of those elements.