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Opposition Party’s Congress Urges Public to Vote Against Constitutional Amendments

By Ruzanna Stepanian

A party forced to hold its congress in the open air has urged the public and its supporters to vote against the proposed constitutional amendments in next month’s referendum.

The opposition “Hanrapetutyun” party led by the murdered Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian’s brother Aram Sarkisian gathered for its fifth congress near Matenadaran in central Yerevan, with speakers at the event more resembling a public rally urging the public to say “No” to the constitutional amendments on November 27.

“By saying “No” to the constitutional reforms we say “No” to the criminals, lies, riggings, murders, provincialism, poverty and injustice,” Aram Sarkisian told delegates, drawing cheers and applause from them.

Sarkisian believes that if the authorities rig the vote, people will go into the streets to confirm the result of the referendum in the city center.

“October 27, 1999 was the day of these authorities. November 27, 2005 will be ours – the country’s and the people’s,” he said. “God forbid the authorities from trying to rig the outcome of the referendum. It will surely turn into a revolution. We promise it to them.”

He said that the opposition was united in its position, and despite the fact that campaigning was divided, “the last accord will be concerted”.

Attending the “Hanrapetutyun” party’s congress were National-Democratic Union (AZhM) Chairman Vazgen Manukian, People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) leader Stepan Demirchian, “New Times” party leader Aram Karapetian, National-Democratic Bloc (AZhD) leader Arshak Sadoyan, expelled Communist Party members Sanatruk Sahakian and Khoren Sarkisian, as well as a number of intellectuals.

“National Unity” party leader Artashes Geghamian had been among the invited guests, but he did not attend. And Albert Bazeyan expelled from “Harapetutyun” was not invited.

HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian, the son of Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian assassinated in the October 27, 1999 assault on parliament, reiterated his party’s cooperation with “Hanrapetutyun”.

And “New Times” party leader Aram Karapetian said that he saw ‘a good tendency in the government’s decision not to provide premises to the “Hanrapetutyun” party.’

“There are also people in the authorities who say: it’s been enough to meet in the halls, go to the street,” he said.

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