Armenia’s opposition announces plans to overthrow president

Channel News Asia, Singapore
March 31 2004

Armenia’s opposition announces plans to overthrow president

YEREVAN : Armenian opposition deputies, who had boycotted parliament
since February to protest against the rule of President Robert
Kocharyan, returned there to announce that they intended to
peacefully overthrow the head of state.

“A few days ago, the leaders of the Justice opposition bloc and the
National Unity party, Stepan Demirchyan and Artashes Geramyan,
announced they had started a process to topple Kocharyan’s regime,”
said Viktor Dallakyan, a deputy with the Justice opposition party.


“To that end, popular meetings will be organized. The opposition is
beginning a democratic revolution,” Dallakyan added as he was
addressing parliament.

The opposition had boycotted sessions of the parliament after it
failed to pass changes that would have allowed for a national vote of
confidence in Kocharyan.

Dallakyan said the opposition wanted to force Kocharyan to resign and
then intended to organize a new presidential election.

Armenia’s ruling coalition accused the opposition of trying to
destabilize the country.

“These calls for disobedience, which may bring about destabilization,
are unacceptable,” the Republican party, which belongs to the ruling
coalition, said in a statement.

In neighboring Georgia, mass rallies organized by US-educated
opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili late last year resulted in the
peaceful overthrow of veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze, following
controversial parliamentary elections.

Saakashvili was then elected president by an overwhelming majority of
voters in January, and his party went on to win parliamentary
elections held last Sunday.

Armenia’s opposition had contested Kocharyan’s April 2002 re-election
to the small Caucasus nation’s Constitutional Court. The court ruled
the election valid but, after mass demonstrations, suggested that a
confidence referendum be held.

Kocharyan’s re-election as president was marred by fraud, according
to international observers, and was followed by near-daily street

The tiny former Soviet republic of Armenia, in the Caucasus
mountains, was left impoverished after a war with neighboring
Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. It is heavily reliant on aid from the
West, which has taken a skeptical view of Kocharyan’s rule.