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Armenia Election - 2013

On 18 February 2013 Armenians voted for president, with incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan widely expected to win. His victory would give another five years to the already 13-year rule of his Republican Party in the small Caucasus nation. In a rarity for the former Soviet republics, Armenia had a genuine multi-party contest. The race, however, was rocky for the landlocked country of 3 million people. Of the eight original candidates, one dropped out, a second refused to vote, a third also refused to vote and was on a hunger strike, a fourth was shot and wounded in an apparent assassination attempt, and a fifth feared arrest after the vote because he knew the suspected shooter. Of the last three candidates, two were charging fraud even before the first ballot was cast. Indeed, Serzh Sargsyan of the Republican Party of Armenia received 861,155 votes, 56.67% of the votes cast, while Raffi K. Hovhannisyan of the Heritage Party received 539,691 votes, 35.51% of the votes cast, while the remaining votes were split among five other minor candidates.

In accordance with the Armenian constitution, the president accepted the government’s resignation on the day he was sworn in for a new term, on 09 April 2013. He was to appoint the new premier within ten days and form the government within 20 days after the prime minister’s appointment. On 19 April 2013 the president signed a decree to reappoint Tigran Sargsyan as the country’s prime minister.

Prime minister of Armenia Tigran Sarkisyan tendered his resignation, deputy speaker of the National Assembly (parliament) of Armenia Eduard Sharmazanov announced 03 April 2014. “Sarkisyan’s resignation has been accepted by the Republican party of Armenia,” Sharmazanov said at the end of the session of the executive board of the ruling Republican party of Armenia. Inconsistencies in the various explanations given for Sarkisian's decision cast doubt on his insistence that he quit voluntarily, even though rumors of his impending dismissal had surfaced on half a dozen occasions during the six years he held the post. The four parliamentary parties not represented in the ruling coalition had demanded Tigran Sarkisian's replacement as prime minister.

Sarkisian stepped down days after the Constitutional Court ruled that a controversial pension reform, which had been a major initiative of the Sarkisian cabinet, was unconstitutional and should be changed. The reform had triggered mass demonstrations by protesters who claimed that the law would not guarantee workers a decent retirement income.

Ovik Abraamian / Hovik Abrahamian started work 14 April 2014 to form a new government following his appointment as Armenia’s prime minister. Abraamian, who was the speaker of parliament before his appointment, took over as prime minister from Tigran Sarkisian. Abrahamian had 20 days to form a new government after President Serzh Sarkisian signed a decree appointing him prime minister on April 13. Abrahamian was part of the leadership of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.

Inter RAO UES, the Russian state-controlled firm that owns Armenia's national power grid, reported a five-fold increase in its earnings from Armenia during the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. On June 25, the government refused the demands to reverse the contentious electricity price hike that had been approved by Armenia's five-member Public Services Regulatory Commission on June 17.

Police on 23 June 2015 used water cannons and batons to disperse demonstrators in a crackdown that also targeted journalists who had documented the violence. The No To Plunder movement initially had one demand -- that the government cancel a planned 16 percent rate hike for electricity due to take effect on August 1. But on June 26 the group insisted that police who used force against demonstrators and journalists in Yerevan on June 23 must be punished along with those who ordered them to do so. Despite the efforts by protest spokespeople to keep a laser focus on the issue of electricity rates, some protest participants are expressing much broader concerns.

Pro-Kremlin analyst and former Duma Deputy Sergei Markov wrote that the Yerevan events "are an attempted color revolution that has been ordered from abroad ... This attack on Yerevan was expected as a reaction to its rejection of a semicolonial Association Agreement with the EU and its joining to Eurasian Union... Most likely there are many fighters from Ukraine among the demonstrators and they are being managed by an external headquarters run by the same political technologists that ran Kyiv's Maidan."

Up to 20,000 people were singing, dancing and waving Armenian tricolors just hundreds of yards from the presidential palace, but tension at the daily demonstrations, which had been going on for more than a week, had been growing. After weeks of round-the-clock protests and sit-down strikes, the public managed to extract a few concessions from the government but its demands were largely rejected.

Since an armed band took over a Yerevan police station on 17 July 2016, killing one officer and briefly taking several hostages, thousands of locals rallied around the gunmen, urging the government to negotiate and make concessions. The gunmen were members of the Sasna Tsrer (Daredevils of Sassoun) movement, a radical offshoot of the opposition Founding Parliament political organization. They are supporters of jailed opposition leader Zhirayr Sefilian, who was arrested in June 2016 on weapons charges and suspicion of plotting the armed overthrow of the government.

The armed militia Sasna Tsrer, which had close ties with the radical group Founding Parliament, demanded Sarkisian's immediate resignation, and the release of Founding Parliament leader Zhirayr Sefilian, who had been arrested one month earlier on suspicion of plotting a coup. The several dozen gunmen occupied the building for two weeks before surrendering, during which time thousands of people rallied repeatedly in support of their demands. Five weeks later, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian, who in the wake of the April fighting had announced yet another major reform drive intended to render the state "more efficient," was constrained to step down. Reportedly at Moscow's insistence, Sarkisian named to replace him Karapetian, 53, a former Yerevan mayor who for the previous six years had held senior executive positions with the Russian gas giant Gazprom.




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Page last modified: 02-04-2017 14:40:19 ZULU