Rally in the Regions: Hovannisian appeals to provinces to “inaugurate a New Armenia”

Rally in the Regions: Hovannisian appeals to provinces to “inaugurate a New Armenia”

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After 21 days of hunger strike as part of post-election standoff following what he called a “fraudulent ballot”, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian has resumed his trips to Armenia's provinces to “recruit citizens for the April 9 inauguration of a new Armenia”, namely a rally scheduled for that day in Liberty Square.

During his rally last Friday, Hovannisian challenging the official results of the presidential race, said that he was commencing the second stage of his post-election regional visits and would make trips to cities, towns and villages of Armenia till April 5 when another rally in scheduled in Yerevan.

“By our regional visits we have entered a new stage of our struggle. I have decided that it should be without hunger strikes, because we are approaching April 9 for a new Armenia, and I repeat: whoever goes against our national initiative, who does not meet the people half-way and goes on with the inauguration on April 9, I believe he would have to become the warrantor of his own self-isolation and the final rebellion of the Armenian people, the Republic of Armenia. I do not want that, I want it to be reconsidered and for him to address people with a prudent response and a plan for national unity,” Hovannisian told RFL/RE.

Heritage party vice-chairman Armen Martirosyan believes there is a need for the trips to provinces prior to April 9, Sargsyan’s official inauguration day.

Hovannisian calls the second stage of his regional visits “national enlistment campaign” to recruit citizens for the “inauguration of a New Armenia”, and has started his campaign from the southern gate – Syunik province.
On Monday in Kapan, Goris, Sisian, Yeghegnadzor, and Ararat, the Heritage leader called people to gather at Yerevan’s Liberty Square on April 9 for the “inauguration of a new Armenia”.

In Artashat, where few people had rallied to meet him, he urged to drop their fear, and turned to the police who were video-taping the event: “What are you doing, guys? This is our land, also yours. I am not begging you, but you have to think what orders you are implementing. This is not the private garden of either Abrahamyan, or Sargsyan, or Hovannisian.”

With similar appeals he spoke on Tuesday in Yeghvard, Talin, Ujan, Artik, Gyumri, Armavir, and Echmiadzin.

In the spiritual capital of Armenia Hovannisian cited the Catholicos of All Armenians during the March 31 Easter liturgy at Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin: “Let no one impose his private truth upon anyone or upon the people”.

“I am certain that he implied Serzh Sargsyan. The time has come for our Church to function independent of the state, be with all of us without exceptions, and never let the commandment of the Holy Bible be abused,” said Hovannisian.

In reference to Hovannisian's post-election trips to the provinces, Manvel Sargsyan, heading the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, told ArmeniaNow: “It's a new culture for us, and we should not forget that by official data he score big in the cities, towns and villages on the voting day, which makes his regional visits a natural thing. Also, it is the first time that the population of the provinces has proved to be so active not only during the voting, but the post-election stand-off as well.”

Expert in political sciences Gegham Nazaryan counters that Hovannisian ended his hunger strike and left Liberty Square once he realized Sargsyan was not going to give up his post, nor would he refrain from the inauguration ceremony.

“From rally to rally people get more and more disappointed in Raffi Hovannisian. If he continues like this, he will lose his ratings in no time and will find himself in the same part of the political field with losers who cannot change anything in the situation at hand,” Nazaryan told A1+ oppositional online newspaper.