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AFP
February 27, 2021

Thousands march in Armenia to demand PM’s resignation

World

AFP
February 27, 2021

YEREVAN: Several thousand opposition supporters marched through the capital of Armenia on Friday to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan which many see as a national humiliation.

Columns of people angry with the prime minister flooded the streets of central Yerevan, waving Armenian flags and chanting anti-government slogans, hours before a planned meeting with the ex-Soviet country’s president.

Former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, who has been put forward by the opposition to replace Pashinyan, called on all Armenians to join the protest. “The people must take to the street and express their will so that we can avoid bloodshed and turmoil,” he said at the rally.

“Either we get rid of them,” Manukyan said, referring to Pashinyan and his allies who control parliament, “or we will lose Armenia.” The small South Caucasus nation plunged on Thursday into a fresh political crisis as Pashinyan defied calls to resign, accused the military of an attempted coup and rallied some 20,000 supporters in Yerevan.

But the opposition gathered some 10,000 of its own supporters, who erected barricades and set up tents and stoves outside the parliament building and vowed to hold round-the-clock demonstrations. The crisis spilled into a second day after Pashinyan’s critics spent the night, then blocked streets near the parliament building in preparation for Friday’s rally.

The march led them to the presidency and then to the prime minister’s residence, ahead of a meeting with President Armen Sarkisian at 15:40 local time (1140 GMT). A leader of the opposition Dashnaktsutyun party, Gegham Manukyan, told reporters that opposition parties would only speak with Pashinyan about “his resignation”.