Armenian opposition parties unite for promised protest action

Associated Press Worldstream
March 25, 2004 Thursday 12:49 PM Eastern Time

Armenian opposition parties unite for promised protest action

by AVET DEMOURIAN; Associated Press Writer

YEREVAN, Armenia

Opposition lawmakers in Armenia on Thursday agreed to join forces in
their efforts to oust President Robert Kocharian and the government
of this former Soviet republic.

Leaders of the Justice and National Unity parties announced they
would organize “a joint protest of national disobedience” within the
next three weeks.

Stepan Demirchian and Artashes Gegamian said they expected from
100,000 to 150,000 people to participate in the demonstration
demanding the “expulsion of the illegal administration and the
re-establishment of constitutional order.”

The opposition, which occupies 23 seats in the 131-seat parliament,
emphasized that they would not resort to violence and warned the
authorities that they would “answer before society and the world”
should they use force against demonstrators.

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. 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.