YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Facing growing pressure to hand over power to Nikol Pashinyan, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia said late on Wednesday that it is ready to discuss “any issue” with the opposition leader following Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.
The Republican Party of Armenia also indicated that it will replace Sarkisian, who technically remains the party chairman, with a new leader.
The Republican Party of Armenia’s parliamentary faction made the announcement after its members met with Sarkisian and acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan to discuss the continuing political crisis in Armenia.
In a statement, it said Sarkisian, who served two presidential terms from 2008-2018, gave “more detailed explanations” for his decision to step down just six days after being elected prime minister by the Republican Party of Armenia-controlled parliament. The ex-president also urged Republican Party of Armenia lawmakers to regard “stability and the country’s security” as their chief priority.
According to the statement, the “second half of the meeting” was held in Sarkisian’s absence and focused on the government’s standoff with protesters led by Pashinyan. The participants agreed to declare that “the Republican Party of Armenia faction is ready to discuss any issues with all sides without preconditions,” added the statement.
The meeting came as Pashinyan, who leads the opposition Civil Contract party, held another big rally in Yerevan to demand that the parliament appoint him as interim prime minister and call snap elections. “We demand an explicit and unconditional capitulation of the Republican Party to the people,” he said.
Pashinyan warned that his supporters will “blockade” the parliament building and the prime minister’s office in Yerevan if the Republican Party of Armenia majority in the National Assembly moves to install Karapetyan as prime minister. He accused the latter of illegally occupying the country’s top executive post.
“We are saying at this square that the Armenian people have a candidate for prime minister and the National Assembly factions must reckon with this political reality and nominate that candidate by consensus,” Pashinyan said, clearly referring to himself. He urged supporters to continue to demonstrate and block streets and roads on Thursday.
Pashinyan and Karapetyan had been scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning. The meeting was called off after the acting premier rejected preconditions set by Pashinyan.