Thousands Rally In Armenia Against Plan To Change Constitution

By RFE/RL's Armenian Service

At least 3,000 protesters have rallied in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, against proposed constitutional reforms they say could extend President Serzh Sarkisian's hold on power.

The demonstration, which was organized by the New Armenia opposition movement, began on the central Freedom Square on December 1.

Protesters then marched down large streets before returning to Liberty Square, shouting slogans and holding signs demanding that Sarkisian step down.

Demonstrators also waved Armenian flags and demanded that new presidential and parliamentary elections be held.

Protest leaders said they would continue their demonstration until their demands were met.

The protest comes ahead of a December 6 referendum on Sarkisian's proposal to change the constitution to make Armenia a parliamentary democracy where the prime minister, not the president, holds power.

Opposition forces say the changes are aimed at allowing Sarkisian to continue in power after his second and final term ends in 2018.

Sarkisian has denied plans to hold office after serving as president.

Speaking to the crowd at Freedom Square, opposition leader Raffi Hovannisyan said that "this government is counting its last days."

With reporting by AFP