Old things said anew: Armenian opposition ends sitting strike, calls for president’s resignation

Old things said anew: Armenian opposition ends sitting strike, calls for president’s resignation

Photolure

Not all of ANC supporters took their leader’s “end-of-strike” announcement with enthusiasm

On Saturday night the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) declared an end to its round-the-clock rallies in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated that henceforth the sole purpose of the movement would be achieving the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan.

Even so, the ANC would not completely reject the possibility of resuming a formal dialogue with the ruling coalition, which was suspended by the opposition bloc more than a month ago in connection with the arrest of young opposition activist Tigran Arakelyan. The ANC had put forward a demand that Arakelyan be released, but the ruling coalition indicated it would not – and wasn’t in a position to – grant the demand. Then the ANC suspended the dialogue and announced a weeklong sit-in. During one of the rallies a letter from Arakelyan was read out. It said that he did not want his imprisonment to be a reason for the interruption of the dialogue. The opposition alliance offered a continued dialogue, but the ruling coalition said it would not resume talks until the rallies were discontinued.

Now, in fact, there are no formal obstacles for the dialogue to go on. But it is not clear yet what the delegation will talk about. The dialogue was initiated by the ANC in order to persuade the authorities to opt for early elections. Even an 86-page document was presented to substantiate the necessity of holding snap elections.

But the authorities responded to it with a 130-page document refuting the need for early elections. The document has not been made public and the society has never learned how the ruling coalition responded to the ANC accusations. Nevertheless, it became clear that the coalition does not accept the demands for its resignation and is ready to struggle. And now, to continue the dialogue, a new theme will have to be found.

Meanwhile, time is approaching for the start of a parliamentary race to be declared open. The elections are scheduled for the spring of 2012. Experts say that the race is even belated – it is now that party lists and people heading them should have already been announced.

This process promises some serious intrigues in Armenia. In particular, it can be fraught with the resignation of the prime minister if Tigran Sargsyan heads the list of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia. Recently, he stopped short of denying such a possibility, saying that he would do as ordered by the party.

But the main intrigue is associated with the name of the second President Robert Kocharyan, who may join the election struggle. Recently, Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of the ruling coalition’s second most important party, Prosperous Armenia, which is considered to be Kocharyan’s brainchild, stated that the ex-president “has every right to return.”