YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—A coalition of 16 Armenian opposition parties urged supporters to again take to the streets on Tuesday after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ignored their ultimatum to resign and pave the way for snap parliamentary elections.
The parties making up a “homeland salvation front” issued the ultimatum as they rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan on Friday. They gave Pashinian until Tuesday noon to step down or face a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience” over his handling of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh that resulted in heavy Armenian casualties and territorial losses.
The prime minister has continued to reject these demands through his aides and political allies. They have said that he is determined to stick to his six-month plan to “restore stability” in Armenia.
“As you can see, Nikol Pashinyan has not tendered resignation,” Ishkhan Saghatelyan, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said in a video address to opposition supporters. “Therefore, from now on, until 5 p.m., Armenia’s citizens have a legitimate right to take peaceful civil disobedience actions to protest and make their demands heard.”
Saghatelyan, whose party is a key driving force behind the protests, urged Armenian security forces not to “execute Nikol Pashinian’s illegal orders and use force against the people.”
“Nikol, you will have to go in any case. Leave without upheavals … Your departure is vital for our people and state,” he said.
Shortly afterward, groups of opposition activists chanting “Nikol traitor!” and “Armenia without Nikol!” began blocking streets in various parts of Yerevan. Riot police intervened to unblock them and try to prevent further traffic disruptions.
They scuffled with protesters at some street intersections. Dozens of protesters were detained on the spot.
A small group of opposition activists picketed the National Security Service headquarters in the Armenian capital to condemn what they call politically motivated criminal investigations targeting opposition figures.
Other protesters paralyzed the work of Yerevan’s metro system for more than an hour.
Similar protests were reported in Gyumri, Vanadzor and several other Armenian cities.
President Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian Apostolic Church and a growing number of public figures have also called for the formation of an interim government and conduct of fresh elections. Sarkissian insisted late last week that Armenia is in a “deep crisis.”