Protest Against Serzh Sargsyan’s Prime-Ministership
Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the opposition Civil Contract party, which is a part of the parliamentary Yelq faction, started a two-week walking tour in protest of the likely election of now former President Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister. On April 9, Pashinyan entered the city of Sevan.
- On the road through Gyumri to Dilijan, Pashinyan and his associates were joined by a group of activists. They selected seven cities to pass through: Vanadzor, Spitak, Dilijan, Sevan, Hrazdan, Abovyan, Yerevan.
- Under the #ԻմՔայլը (My step) hashtag, Pashinyan started his walk on March 31 in Gyumri and plans to arrive in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on April 13 in time for their first major anti-government protest.
- The Armenian Parliament, dominated by Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party, will elect a new prime minister on April 17. It is almost certain that the former president’s supporters will choose Serzh Sargsyan as the next prime minister.
- The new president was sworn in on April 9. On March 2, Armen Sarkissian, former ambassador of Armenia to the United Kingdom was elected President of Armenia, a largely ceremonial position after constitutional changes which will enter into full force with the election of the new prime minister. Prime minister’s power is now strengthened.
- In a 2014 pledge, Sargsyan stated that if Armenia chose a parliamentary form of governance he will not aspire to hold the post of the prime minister. “I believe that one person must not aspire to the reins of power in Armenia for more than twice in a lifetime,” he said.
- In recent years, Sargsyan has diverged from that statement making critics concerned that he does wish to become the country’s new prime minister.
- The acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan confirmed that Serzh Sargsian will keep the position of the country’s top leader. Referring to his Saturday meeting with Serzh Sargsyan, he said: “We decided to set forth Serzh Sargsyan’s candidacy as the first person in government because, I repeat, it is extremely important to move towards the new governance system smoothly, efficiently, and with minimized risks.”
- “Our action plans include blocking roads, blockading buildings and generating the kind of civic activity that would enable us to go to the National Assembly and halt the work of the deceitful state and deceitful regime created by Serzh Sargsyan,” said Pashinyan to reporters in Gyumri.
- A former journalist, Pashinyan says he wants to lead a peaceful protest and hopes to see many people joining his initiative along the road.
- Yelq faction holds 9 out of 105 seats in the parliament. Besides the Civil Contract, the faction consists of two other parties, Bright Armenia and the Republic Party, which refused to join Pashinyan’s initiative.
On July 15, during a Q&A session live on Facebook, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed a myriad of pressing questions, including one about the status of Amulsar Gold Mine.
Lydian International, a Canadian mining company, got the approval in 2016 to drill for gold in Amulsar. Since then, the project has been mired by environmental protests which have intensified in the past month and have included road closures and calls for complete shutdown of the project.
On the evening of July 15, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan responded to questions that had been submitted on Facebook. Pashinyan chose those which had received the most “Likes”. During the more than one hour session, he read and responded to questions about healthcare, public transport, Amulsar Gold Mine, etc. This was the prime minister’s second Q/A session on Facebook. Read his Q/A from June 25 here. Before answering questions, he congratulated France, the French team, and the French president on the occasion of France’s win in the World Cup Football Final. He also congratulated Croatia on reaching the final. He reminded listeners that although there are questions about Armenia’s football (soccer) team as well, that he had said earlier that the Armenian Football