Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan late on Monday warned that the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) is attempting to sabotage Tuesday’s parliament vote for a new prime minister, which will take place with Pashinyan as the only candidate.
In a Facebook Live broadcast after midnight local time, Pashinyan
said that he received information that during a late night meeting led
by former prime minister Serzh Sarkisian, the RPA has decided to sabotage the election of a prime minister. The
Republican Party had earlier announced that they would not
hamper the “election of the people’s candidate,” and also said that they
will not put forward their own candidate.
Pashinyan, who had called a “Victory Rally” for 11 a.m., urged his
supporters to gather at Republic Square to thwart what he called “Serzh
Sarkisian’s and the Republican Party’s new plan,” saying the ruling
party is trying to regain its hold on the country’s leadership.
While Pashinyan had declared Monday as a “Day of Silence” ahead of
Tuesday’s vote, the political developments were anything but silent.
Earlier in the day, Pashinyan met with the RPA’s parliamentary faction at the National Assembly building, where
the ruling party lawmakers grilled the prime minister candidate on
issues that were for the most part centered on Russia.
The brunt of the questions from the lawmakers
focused on two Russian-led initiatives—the Collective Security Treaty
Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union—and how Pashinyan plans to
deal with those entities given his vocal opposition to both.
“It is not a secret that I voted against joining the EEU,” said
Pashinyan in response to a question from the parliament’s deputy speaker
and RPA spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov.
“But Armenia is an EEU member state now and, as politicians, we
should take facts into consideration…this should be the approach of
anyone who is considering the best interests of Armenia. I think drastic
changes in foreign policy would be dangerous for Armenia,” added
Through their questions, Sharmazanov, as well as his colleagues
Armen Ashotyan, Samvel Fermanyan and Gagik Melikian, attempted to prove they were right and Pashinyan is
wrong, and force the prime minister candidate to praise Russia and the
foreign policy initiatives carried out by the Sarkisian administration.
At one point, Pashinyan was pressured to reveal his choices to fill
cabinet posts, to which he responded that per Armenia’s Constitution,
the prime minister has 15 days to form a government, which he said will
be done through negotiations with other political parties and forces, and
by thorough assessment of human resources.
“The formation of the new cabinet should be a tool to resolve the
political crisis. The cabinet will be formed according to what the
political landscape looks like tomorrow. We should strive to form a
unity government. The law stipulates that the newly elected prime
minister has 15 days to form a new government; our laws do not say that
we first name the cabinet members and then we elect the prime minister,”
Wess Mitchell, a senior U.S. State Department official, phoned Pashinyan on
Monday to discuss the political developments in Armenia and to discuss “issues relating to a peaceful and legal resolution” to the
current situation in Armenia, according to a brief Facebook post by
Pashinyan, who did not elaborate on the details of the conversation.
“The United States continues to monitor closely the situation in
Armenia,” said a spokeswoman for the department, Heather Nauert, over the
weekend. “As a friend of Armenia, we urge all parties to engage in good
faith negotiations on the formation of a new government in accordance
with the Constitution, and to reach a resolution that reflects the
interests of all Armenians.”
“We support the ongoing efforts of the Office of President [Armen]
Sarkissian to facilitate dialogue between all parties. We continue to
commend the peaceful nature of the demonstrations, and trust that the
security forces and those exercising their right to peaceful protest
will remain committed to non-violence in the days to come,” Nauert added
in a statement.
"Asbarez," April 30, 2018