Armenian Opposition Continues Anti-government Protest

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, for a second day Saturday, demanding early parliamentary elections and electoral law reform.

Activists of the opposition Armenian National Congress set up tents in Yerevan's Freedom Square and said they will continue the anti-government protest as long as necessary.

The opposition wants presidential and parliamentary elections before the end of the year and amendments to Armenia's electoral code to take place before a vote. Activists also demand the release of political prisoners and an investigation into the government crackdown on post-election protests in March 2008 that killed eight people.

Opposition leader Levon ter-Petrosyan, a former Armenian president, has led frequent protests since then, but the number of protesters has been dwindling.

The government has rejected the possibility of early elections.

Armenia has had political tensions since it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, with a series of disputed elections and a war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Armenian-speaking region of Nagorno Karabakh.

Deadly riots erupted in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, following the February 19th vote, when police clashed with opposition supporters who said the election was rigged. Official results gave a landslide victory to former Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan, who has since been sworn into office. Mr. Ter-Petrosyan, who disputes election results, won 21 percent of the vote.

More than 100 opposition members were arrested during post-election violence in 2008, and there have been allegations of police brutality against detainees.