‘Yes’ Inside, ‘No’ Outside: Parliament approves constitutional amendments package amid protest

While Armenian lawmakers were taking a vote on a controversial package of constitutional amendments, overwhelmingly approving it, members of the No front opposed to the changes were holding a protest outside the National Assembly building Monday afternoon.

At noon on Monday, on Liberty Square, a few dozen protesters held a protest, saying “no” to the new package of constitutional amendments. After delivering their speeches in the square the protesters tried to march through Baghramyan Avenue to the Parliament building, but a police cordon blocked their way.

Eventually, the protesters showed the police a document stating that the march was sanctioned by the municipality, and this allowed them to move to the National Assembly building through Baghramyan Avenue.

“There will be MPs who will vote “no”, but we have no hopes about the majority. We will make our protest and show our disagreement to the constitutional amendment process and there we will announce our next steps,” members of the You Won’t Pass It group said, addressing several hundred activists and supporters.

About two dozen protesters were reportedly detained by police as they tried to attach big “No” posters on the fence of the National Assembly.

A number of opposition parties and groups have formed the “No” front, among them are the parliamentary Heritage and Armenian National Congress parties, the extra-parliamentary Founding Parliament group, the People’s Party of Armenia, the National Self-Determination Union, a number of civil groups.

Meanwhile, at least two opposition factions in the National Assembly – that of the Prosperous Armenia Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) – are in favor of the amendments.

Later in the afternoon the 131-member National Assembly voted 103 to 10, with 3 abstentions, to approve the constitutional amendments package. For the constitutional changes to take place they also need to be supported in a popular referendum due to be held in late November or early December.