Come Back For More: Opposition leaders promise to outline further steps at next rally

Leaders of the political parties opposed to the current government promised to unveil their strategy to achieve a power change at the next rally as they addressed thousands of supporters who gathered in Yerevan’s Liberty Square tonight.

The joint “all-Armenian” rally of the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), the Armenian National Congress (ANC), Heritage and the People’s Party of Armenia (the latter also joined the non-governing trio) on Friday admittedly attracted the largest crowd in the traditional venue of political assembly since the 2008 post-election rallies led by current ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

In his speech at the rally, Ter-Petrosyan, who served as first Armenian president in 1991-1998, leveled harsh criticism at the incumbent leader, Serzh Sargsyan, saying that today is the “most opportune moment for getting rid of this government”. Responding to “Now”, “Now” calls from the crowd demanding immediate action, he warned, however, that the scheduling and pace of further steps must be decided exclusively by the leaders of the parties who have put themselves at the head of the struggle.

According to Ter-Petrosyan, the roadmap to a complete power change – implemented through “stage-by-stage” or “package” options – will be presented at the next rally. He, however, did not indicate the dat of the next gathering, saying that they will inform the public about it “within the next two or three days”.

PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan, who spoke about his possible presidential run the day before the rally, also said that he would deliver his word at the next gathering.

“Our country will have a success and the start of this success is given today, at this moment,” he declared, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Speakers at the rally pointed out the failures of the government that they claimed has not been capable of solving people’s social and economic problems, they also spoke about the large scale of out-migration, poverty, corruption, falling investments, faulty legislation hampering the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, other concerns.

Most of them markedly avoided addressing foreign-policy issues, like Armenia’s entry into the Eurasian Economic Union that was formalized today as President Serzh Sargsyan signed a corresponding treaty at the Minsk summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

Ter-Petrosyan repeated that he considered Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led trade bloc to be an “irreversible reality”. But Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian stressed that since Sargsyan and the current Armenian government are “illegitimate” all steps made by them have no legal force.

Members of the opposition parties agreed that the government has failed to meet the set of demands issued back in June. They also criticized the government for its intention to reform the Constitution. While considering such a reform to be a lesser priority than solutions to more vital issues like emigration, economy, social security, most opposition groups also fear that by turning Armenia into a parliamentary republic President Sargsyan and his ruling Republican Party effectively seek to perpetuate their power after the end of Sargsyan’s second and final term in office in 2018. Sargsyan himself and his political allies have denied having any such designs, declaring that the reform is needed for the country’s further democratization.

The rally ended in a march staged along the central streets of Yerevan.