Armenian Prime Minister resigns in wake of national protests

30 April, 2018, 03:18 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • В Гюмри начался многотысячный митинг

Serzh Sargsyan, who ruled the country for 10 years, surprised many when he stepped down as prime minister Monday amid massive anti-government protests.

Sarksyan's resignation has failed to halt protesters, who say they consider the whole political elite tainted by Sarksyan's drive to shift power to the prime minister from the president.

In the streets of Yerevan, flag-draped demonstrators blocked intersections, sang songs, played music and chanted slogans accusing the ruling party of clinging to power against the people's will. Members of the Armenian opposition Yelk parliamentary faction, led by its chairman Nikol Pashinyan, had a meeting today with a delegation of Russian State Duma (lower parliament chamber), Yelk press secretary Tigran Avinyan said.

HHK now look increasingly likely to back Pashinian in the May 1 vote.

Tsarukian has yet to announce whether he will seek the post of prime minister.

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According to the Constitution, parliamentary factions are entitled to nominate candidates for PM within 7 days after the resignation of the PM, after which the election is held through an open voting in the parliament.

The chances of Armenia's Velvet Revolution ending peacefully increased dramatically on April 28 after the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said it will not nominate Acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan or any other candidate for the vacant post of prime minister ahead of a vote scheduled for an emergency session of parliament on May 1.

Amid public anger at widespread poverty and official corruption, the opposition is demanding that Karapetyan's ruling Republican party cede power to Pashinyan before new parliamentary elections are held.

Pashinyan called on supporters to organise big demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital, on May 1.

"Everything will be OK. We believe that the elections can be done within two months, however we find this topic to be discussable, that it can be done a bit later, however within the limits of logic, in order for the political arena to be more ready for it", Pashinyan said.

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"I am sure that at least six people from the Republican Party - like rats from a sinking ship - would vote for Pashinyan", said analyst Ervand Bozoyan.

Pashinyan met Sunday with Russian lawmakers, telling them his premiership would not threaten the South Caucasus country's close ties with Moscow.

"This political process will help to develop and deepen Armenian-Russian relations more than ever before; we will improve our relations with the USA, the European Union, our two neighbors, Iran and Georgia".

The United States on Saturday urged "good faith" in negotiations, with a State Department statement calling for "a resolution that reflects the interests of all Armenians".

The Kremlin is watching its small but strategic ally, where Russian Federation has a military base, with concern.

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