Armenian prime minister to be elected on May 1

Posted April 27, 2018

The demonstrations, driven by public anger over perceived political cronyism and corruption, looked to have peaked on Monday when Serzh Sarksyan, a close Putin ally, quit as prime minister, a post he had held for just six days after serving for a decade as president. "The wave of protest will wash away this government sooner or later".

Pashinyan, if elected, wants to reform the electoral system to ensure it is fair before holding new parliamentary elections.

The ruling party has retained its majority in parliament - with 58 seats in the 105-seat parliament - but is facing pressure to hand power over to opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian following the protests that triggered Sargsyan's resignation.

Leader of protests in Armenia, MP Nikol Pashinyan promised to continue mass protests until his approval as interim prime minister. The 63-year-old was president of Armenia from 2008 until a term limit forced him out in March.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied Wednesday in Yerevan, calling for Pashinian to become prime minister. Hundreds of Armenian soldiers also joined the protests. Leaders in several former Soviet republics have used similar methods to remain in power. He worked in Russian Federation for five years as a senior executive of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom. Anti-government protesters took to the streets and demanded his resignation. A day after Sargsyan stepped down, the country's opposition called for a meeting with the caretaker prime minister to discuss a "peaceful transfer of power".

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Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the top diplomats from Russian Federation and Armenia discussed the situation around Nagorny Karabakh, a breakaway statelet with an Armenian ethnic majority that is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

"It was emphasised that resolving the political crisis in Armenia must take place exclusively through legal means in the framework of the current constitution", the Kremlin said. However, according to analysts, Sargsyan's resignation has unsettled Russian interests in Armenia.

Analyst Stepan Safaryan said that, while the core of the Republican Party has no intention of backing down, he did not rule out that some of the party's lawmakers would vote for Pashinyan.

Pashinyan called on the people to focus all their energies on May 1, when, "the people of Armenia must show its maximum strength".