Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Wave of protests sweeps new leader into power in Armenia

Wave of protests sweeps new leader into power in Armenia

The Armenian Parliament Tuesday elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's prime minister.

"Representatives of the party will not be members of the government".

Exactly a month ago, Nikol Pashinyan was walking from village to village across Armenia in a desperate protest against a power grab by the country's prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan.

Pashinyan needed at least 53 votes in the 105-seat unicameral parliament to be named Prime Minister.

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The extraordinary sitting of the Armenian parliament kicked off 12:00 for the second round of vote to elect a Prime Minister. Both political groups have backed the Pashinian-led street protests against Sarkisian's attempt to extend his rule, which began in Yerevan on April 13 and intensified dramatically in the following weeks.

Analyst Vigen Akopyan said snap elections looked certain.

Supporters brought the country to a halt, joking that it was a measure of Mr. Pashinyan's influence that he could make Armenians do things on time.

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, head of the Yelk (Exit) faction, was the sole candidate in the first round of elections on May 1.

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Pashinyan only called an end to the rallies after the Republicans said they would back his candidacy.

At the tense, eight-hour session the week before, Republicans peppered Pashinyan with questions about his commitment to Armenia's ties with Russian Federation, the country's traditional family values, and economic growth. "There will be no people with privileged rights in Armenia, everyone will be equal before the law", he stressed. Under pressure from protesters on April 23, Sargsyan resigned, but protests in the country continued.

The father-of-four has earned a reputation as a man of the people, wearing his trademark camouflage T-shirt during protests and carrying a massive rucksack which he says contains "everything I need" - including a chocolate bar and a laptop.

At a concert in the city Monday night, Pashinyan had appeared alongside System of a Down front man Serj Tankian, who gave his support to the former journalist and was also present in parliament for the vote on Tuesday. "And for me, my goal isn't to become prime minister".

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Pending fresh elections "Pashinyan must manoeuvre between the will of the people and the parliamentary ruling party that he does not belong to and which can not begin supporting him", he said.

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