Council of Europe chief congratulates Armenia's Pashinyan

09 May, 2018, 00:50 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Council of Europe chief congratulates Armenia's Pashinyan

Armenia's parliament has elected backbencher and protest leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's new prime minister, capping his historic, peaceful rebellion and sending his supporters into the streets again to celebrate.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan addresses supporters after being elected as Prime Minister in Yerevan's Republic Square on May 8, 2018.

In a vote in parliament on Tuesday, 59 lawmakers backed Pashinyan's candidacy, including some from the ruling Republican Party, with 42 voting against. The protests were initially limited to opposing former president Serzh Sargsyan's appointment as prime minister, but their demands later expanded to include a new government from outside the ruling Republican Party, and new elections to be held under a new electoral code.

Pashinyan, a former journalist and leader of the opposition Civil Contract party, put himself at the front of the protest movement as thousands of people took to the streets in Yerevan.

But governance changes that in tandem bolstered the prime minister's office led to accusations that Mr Sargsyan had manipulated the constitution to cling to power.

Russian Federation has strong strategic interests in Armenia, including a military base, and had been watching the country's political turmoil closely.

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But throughout Armenia's wave of protests, Moscow has remained publicly neutral, and Pashinyan has consistently said he viewed Moscow as a vital ally.

"We do not consider it expedient to cooperate with the new government; it would be hypocritical to consider the issue of our participation in the new government", said Armen Ashotyan, a Republican faction leader. "This process should continue, in line with the wishes of the Armenian people", Jagland said.

If lawmakers fail to elect a prime minister a second time, parliament will be dissolved and early elections will take place.

Many Armenians have stewed for years about the country's poverty and widespread corruption, but Pashinian was able to galvanize that discontent into a mass movement that was raucous but largely peaceful. He said his ministers will be chosen "as a result of discussions" with his allies and other political groups.

He went into hiding but surrendered in 2009. His deputy, Karen Karapetyan, was named acting prime minister. He was released from jail in 2011 under a prisoner amnesty scheme and elected to parliament the next year.

Both Bright Armenia and Republic refused to support Pashinian when he embarked on his campaign aimed at preventing Sarkisian from becoming prime minister and thus extending his decade-long rule.

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