Protests in Yerevan

Armenian Opposition Demands Parliament Debate On Pashinyan’s Resignation

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By Ruzanna Stepanian and Shoghik Galstian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Amid continuing anti-government protests in Yerevan, the Armenian opposition moved on Monday, June 10, to force an emergency parliamentary debate on its demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his cabinet.

The opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances petitioned the leadership of the National Assembly to convene such a session as protesters led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan occupied a section of the city’s Marshal Baghramyan Avenue adjacent to the parliament building. They set up a tent camp there early in the morning after security forces prevented them from marching through another street located closer to the building.

Opposition leader Artsvik Minasyan addresses protesters on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue, Yerevan, June 10, 2024

The opposition lawmakers want the parliament to debate and approve by June 17 a resolution saying that Pashinyan’s government must quit because it “has failed the defense, security and territorial integrity” of Armenia, left the country’s sovereignty “under immediate threat” and must be replaced by experienced professionals trusted by the public. Hayastan’s Artsvik Minasyan stressed that the proposed measure is not a vote of no confidence in the government which was demanded by Galstanyan at the beginning of his month-long campaign for regime change.

The parliament leadership dominated by pro-government lawmakers rejected the initiative later in the day. Speaker Alen Simonian insisted that Pashinyan and his political team still enjoy popular backing.

The parliamentary statutes stipulate that an emergency session must take place if it is demanded by at least 27 members of the 107-seat legislature. Hayastan and Pativ Unem collected 33 signatures in support of the debate, meaning that it has to be scheduled for June 17 at the latest.

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However, the parliamentary majority can scuttle the debate by boycotting it and preventing the National Assembly from making a quorum. Hayk Konjoryan, the parliamentary leader of Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party, made it clear that he and his pro-government colleagues will do just that.

Opposition lawmakers said that despite the parliamentary majority’s stance they hope to succeed in forcing the debate.

“Many things will happen before June 17,” said Hayk Mamijanin, the Pativ Unem leader.

For his part, Minasyan said Armenians should take to the streets in large numbers in order to force the ruling majority to obey “the will of the people.”

“It’s important that the people’s demand be so powerful that they show up for that session,” he told protesters camped out on Marshal Bagramyan Avenue.

Galstanyan discussed his further actions with these and other opposition leaders who reaffirmed support for his protest movement. The outspoken cleric announced afterwards that the street sit-in will continue and culminate in a major rally in the same location on Wednesday. It will be an “extremely important day,” he said, urging supporters to turn out in force.

“With our presence here on June 12, we can change a lot in our lives,” the protest leader added without elaborating.

 

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