Thousands Rally in Support of Pashinyan

Frederick Owens
May 2, 2018

Three factions in the National Assembly of Armenia will vote for the only candidate put forward for the country's prime ministership - opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinian had earlier warned that the country would be plunged into a political crisis if the ruling party failed to support his candidacy.

Pashinyan received 45 votes, short of the 53 he needed to have a majority in the 105-seat legislature. Sargsyan was appointed PM by the parliament on April 17 but was forced to resign under public pressure less than a week later.

"The Republicans won't be able to thwart the people's victory", 59-year-old financier Armen Nikagosyan told AFP at the rally.

In a troubling sign, Sarkisian's party has not publicly announced its official stance prior to the vote, with a senior lawmaker only saying it will not stand in the way of Pashinyan's candidacy.

On April 23, at 16:00, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned as widespread protests entered the 11th day.

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Protests in support of Pashinyan have been held all across Armenia and Armenian Diaspora communities scattered around the world, including a protest on Sunday in front of the Armenian embassy in Canada. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999.

"We have taken a step by refraining to nominate our candidate for prime minister", Bagdasaryan pointed out. "We need elections the results of which will not cause any doubt among anyone", he said.

Some Armenians saw Sarksyan's bid for the prime minister's job as a cynical ploy to extend his grip on power.

"Looking into your eyes, I can say that yes, I am ready - with a great sense of responsibility - to assume the prime ministerial duties", Pashinyan announced in an address before the overjoyed protesters.

Opposition members of parliament joined Pashinian in warning that a vote against him would be a vote against the tens of thousands of people who joined the anti-government rallies in recent weeks.

Vadz Ghazaryan, an IT professional who immigrated to Canada from Armenia in 2014, said the protests have transformed the political landscape in his homeland, giving people hope that the corrupt political system led by the Republican Party can finally be reformed.

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