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Thousands March to Armenian Parliament in Protest Against PM Pashinyan, Demanding His Resignation

Thousands March to Armenian Parliament in Protest Against PM Pashinyan, Demanding His Resignation

On Sunday night, thousands of protesters marched to the Armenian parliament, led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, in a renewed push for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation. This marked the latest escalation in a month-long campaign demanding political change.

The march was met with a heavy police presence. Riot police prevented the protesters from approaching the parliament building, leading to heated exchanges between Archbishop Galstanyan and the Chief of Police. While the immediate tension eased, the standoff continued into the night. Protesters, led by Galstanyan, attempted to approach the building from another direction after midnight but were again blocked by police.

Several opposition parliamentarians who accompanied Galstanyan were also denied entry through the police cordon. Some of these lawmakers engaged in arguments and physical confrontations with security forces, accusing them of unlawfully barring their entry to their parliamentary offices. Eventually, the security forces allowed them to enter the building an hour later. During the brief scuffle, at least three protesters were reportedly detained.

“We will stand here as long as necessary,” Galstanyan declared, condemning the “illegal” actions of the police.

Despite heavy rain starting around 2 a.m. local time, the protesters did not disperse. Many spent the night on Bagramyan Avenue, where organizers set up tents. By Monday morning, the protesters remained camped out on the street.

The march had started from the city’s central Republic Square, where Galstanyan held a massive rally earlier on Sunday. During his speech, he announced a “decisive” four-day push for a parliamentary vote of no confidence in Pashinyan’s government. The archbishop, supported by the Armenian opposition, demanded that the parliament's pro-government leadership convene an emergency session on Tuesday for this purpose. He insisted that the ruling Civil Contract party, which controls the National Assembly, must “obey the will of the people.”

“With our presence, we will not allow them to make yet another anti-state mistake,” Galstanyan proclaimed. He urged the crowd to commit to enduring difficulties over the next four days with persistence and unwavering will, expressing confidence that they were just steps away from victory.

While demanding Pashinyan’s resignation and the formation of an interim government, Galstanyan indicated his openness to other “possible variants of political solutions,” including snap elections. He refrained from providing further details but emphasized the necessity of exploring all options.

Galstanyan initially called for a no-confidence vote in the government during his first rally in Yerevan on May 9. This followed weeks of protests in the northern Tavush province against Pashinyan’s decision to cede several local border areas to Azerbaijan. The two opposition alliances in parliament have pledged to push for a motion of censure, but they lack the single vote needed to force a formal debate on the measure.

Opposition leaders and Galstanyan hope to secure the missing vote from Ishkhan Zakarian, an independent deputy who left the opposition Pativ Unem bloc in 2022. Even if Zakarian joins the initiative, the opposition will need to win over at least 18 of the 71 Civil Contract lawmakers. However, Pashinyan’s allies have expressed confidence that none of their deputies will break ranks to support the bid to oust the prime minister.

As the situation unfolds, the protesters remain resolute, camping out near the parliament, ready for the next steps in their campaign for political change.a


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