Women call for resignation of Armenian leaders in holiday protest

Women call for resignation of Armenian leaders in holiday protest

Associated Press
March 8, 2004 Monday 8:20 AM Eastern Time

YEREVAN, Armenia

Hundreds of women who oppose Armenia’s leadership marched through the
capital on Monday, marking International Women’s Day with calls for
the resignation of President Robert Kocharian and his government.

Carrying flowers and signs reading “Women against arbitrary rule,”
about 1,500 women marched through central Yerevan to the president’s
residence, where they held a rally denouncing the authorities.

Speakers at the rally, which was organized by the Caucasus Mountain
nation’s political opposition, called for the removal of Kocharian and
his government and their replacement by opposition leaders.

Kocharian won a second term in presidential elections a year ago that
sparked mass protests, including nearly daily demonstrations between
the first round of voting in February 2003 and the runoff in early

The opposition alleged widespread violations in both rounds of the
election, including ballot-box stuffing and intimidation of its
activists. The election was followed by parliamentary ballot in which
the pro-government party won the most votes.

In April, Armenia’s Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the
presidential vote but suggested that a referendum be held within a
year to gauge the public’s confidence in the nation’s
leaders. Opposition leaders have pressed for the plebiscite.

International Women’s Day dates back to the Soviet era. Some former
Soviet republics have scrapped the holiday, but in Armenia, Russia and
some others it remains an official holiday and is widely celebrate.