Protests in Armenia

by Nathan Hamm on 4/12/2004 · 3 comments

protesters.jpgI’ve missed a lot of Georgia news over the last week. Rather than try to catch up, here’s something completely different. Armenia’s opposition has launched a permanent protest against President Robert Kocharian.

Tens of thousands of people defied a government ban to rally in Yerevan on Friday in what the Armenian opposition described as the start of “permanent” street protests against President Robert Kocharian.

The opposition leaders urged the supporters not to leave the city’s Freedom Square until Kocharian steps down or agrees to a referendum on his legitimacy. And as the enthusiastic crowd chanted “Robert, go away!” and “Victory! Victory!” the three pro-presidential parties represented in Armenia’s government signaled a softening of their opposition to such a vote.

Sounds a lot like what happened last year in Georgia, if you ask me.

Unfortunately though, Kocharian looks like he’s not going to bow out so easily. After a lackluster turnout over the weekend, opposition leaders pin their hopes on today, while the government prepared water cannons and barbed wire at the presidential palace.

YEREVAN, April 12 (Itar-Tass) – Water cannons and trailers with barbed wire were moved to the presidential palace in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Monday.

The opposition, which urges for the resignation of President Robert Kocharyan, is going to begin a meeting in the afternoon and march to the parliament’s building and offices of the presidential administration.

The opposition accuses Kocharyan of “seizure of power as a result of rigged elections” in 2003.

The Armenian Constitutional Court has review a plea from the opposition about legitimacy of the presidential elections last year and ruled that the final count of votes was correct, simultaneously recommending the conduction of a referendum on confidence in authorities within a year.

Now that this timeline is gone, the opposition demands the referendum, but the parliament has rejected the idea.

Having failed to rally large numbers of people for protests on Friday and Saturday, which were not permitted by authorities, the opposition pins much hopes of Monday’ actions.

“This is a decisive day,” a secretary of the oppositionist parliamentary faction Justice, Viktor Dallakyam, told Itar-Tass.

He said columns of members of the opposition would march to provinces in order to “break through police cordons” and to lead provincial oppositionists to the capital.

Meanwhile, the president said authorities “have enough resources in order to curb political extremism in the country with political means”.

The parliamentary majority declared on Monday that it would not attend plenary sittings of the National Assembly on April12-14.

Parliament leader Artur Bagdasaryan said the decision was made “in order to avoid an artificial exacerbation of the political situation”.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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