Opposition in Armenia resumes protests, calls on PM to resign
Opposition parties are calling on the Prime Minister to resign over his handling of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan.
Opposition groups in Armenia started public protests in the capital Yerevan on Wednesday in an attempt to depose Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over his government's concessions to Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Parties from the opposition have accused the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, of planning to give away all of Karabakh to Azerbaijan. He had told Armenian MPs last month that the "international community calls on Armenia to scale down demands on Karabakh."
Since Sunday, thousands of opposition supporters have gathered every day, momentarily closing roadways in central Yerevan in a bid to push Pashinyan to quit.
Opposition politicians have accused him of trying to hand over to Azerbaijan the whole long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area, over which the arch-foe nations fought two wars in the 1990s and 2020.
Protesters put cement mixers on bridges in Yerevan on Wednesday, momentarily impeding traffic, while small groups of opposition supporters attempted to block the city's main thoroughfares.
An AFP correspondent observed police detaining hundreds of individuals. According to opposition leaders, more than 200 persons jailed on Tuesday were freed the same day.
In a statement, the Armenian national security service stated that "the organizers of rallies are planning...to incite demonstrators to seize parliament building, to destabilize the country, undermine its security and public order."
Pashinyan is scheduled to join the plenary session of parliament later in the afternoon.
Ishkhan Saghatelyan, the opposition leader and parliament vice-speaker stated that "protests will mount and last until Pashinyan steps down."
He stated that the opposition intends to form an "interim government of technocrats" with no party affiliation.
The continuous protests show dissatisfaction with Pashinyan's leadership after the six-week battle over Karabakh in 2020, which lost over 6,500 lives before ending with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
Armenia relinquished swaths of land it had held for decades under the terms of the agreement, and Russia sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce.
The accord was viewed as a national shame in Armenia, sparking weeks of anti-government rallies, prompting Pashinyan to seek emergency parliamentary elections, which his Civil Contract party won in September.
Opposition parties have accused Pashinyan of preparing to hand up sections of Karabakh that are still under Armenian control to Baku after he told parliamentarians last month that the "international community calls on Armenia to scale down demands on Karabakh."
When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, ethnic Armenian rebels in Nagorno-Karabakh broke apart from Azerbaijan. Around 30,000 people were killed in the subsequent wars.
Late last month, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jehyun Bayramov, held a phone call regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said on April 25.
The two parties agreed on the structure of the commission that would handle the delimitation of the international borders between the two countries to settle a conflict that has been ongoing for decades, Yerevan added.
"The ministers exchanged views on the implementation of agreements reached at the level of the heads of state. The parties agreed on the structure of the commission on delimitation and border security," the ministry revealed.