Opposition hardliners plan rally in Yerevan, keen on ‘alternative elections’

Opposition hardliners plan rally in Yerevan, keen on ‘alternative elections’

A number of opposition hardliners unhappy with the organization of the protest movement in Armenia have announced a rally in Yerevan for next month.

Members of the pressure group, calling itself Pre-Parliament, backed opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian in the wake of the disputed February 18 presidential election and participated in his rallies and marches staged in the past seven weeks.

All along Pre-Parliament, an initiative embracing a number of scholars, civic and environmental activists, has urged Hovannisian and his team to take more drastic action in ‘securing people’s victory’. Many of its members publicly criticized the Heritage party leader for his ostensibly failed agenda on April 9, the day that saw a major protest in Yerevan against President Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration.

In a statement released over the weekend Pre-Parliament said it will hold its own rally in the Armenian capital on May 9 to celebrate the Day of the Liberation of Shushi and victory in World War II in Europe. The rally will also coincide with another post-election period following the May 5 municipal vote in Yerevan.

In its statement Pre-Parliament said that the “wave of people’s indignation” has not been properly coordinated and channeled into the necessary direction, as a result of which, it claimed, struggle has reached an impasse.

“Therefore, the only way of enforcing the power of the people and displaying its sovereignty is the creation and legitimization by the national-liberation movement, through alternative elections organized according to the rules set by the people, of bodies of power functioning in parallel and capable of replacing the current ones at an opportune moment,” the group said in its statement.

In his speech at the April 9 “inauguration of a new Armenia” Hovannisian pointedly refused to set up any ‘shadow’ or ‘alternative’ structures of power as insisted by many of his movement’s backers, notably Pre-Parliament Secretary, Karabakh war veteran Jirair Sefilian.

Government representatives had repeatedly warned the opposition against attempting to create such “alternative” structures, claiming that it would be against the Constitution and would, in fact, amount to usurping power. The police also issued a statement last Monday warning that an ‘alternative’ presidential inauguration would be illegal and that the opposition could take the consequences.