Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Armenia's president appoints Pashinyan as prime minister

Armenia's president appoints Pashinyan as prime minister

Armenia's governing Republican Party will provide the additional votes needed to elect a prime minister during a parliamentary vote on Tuesday, a Republican Party lawmaker told Reuters.

When the result was announced, Pashinyan supporters who had gathered on Yerevan's central Republic Square to watch the session (livestreamed onto big screens) shouted "Nikol" and "Victory", and popped corks of champagne bottles, spraying the crowds.

Protests were triggered after RPA chairman and Armenia's long-time leader Serzh Sargsyan who had been barred by the constitution from seeking another term as president became prime minister.

"The Republican Party has made the political decision to support the candidate nominated ... for the sake of stability in our country", said Vahram Bagdasaryan, the head of the Republicans' faction in parliament, in a speech before the vote.

Pashinyan has promised to rid Armenia of corruption and poverty and is still the only candidate running for the PM's post.

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Before the start of the protests last month, he walked some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Gyumri - Armenia's second city - to Yerevan with his supporters, often sleeping in the open. His aides said Karen Karapetyan, the prime minister from September 2016 until last month, and who is close to Russian Federation, had sought backroom deals to derail a vote last week for Mr Pashinyan to become PM, which he lost.

Armenia is a country of about three million people nestled in mountains between Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Members of Pashinyan's Civil Contract party hailed Tuesday as a "historic day", with MP Lena Nazaryan saying it was the culmination of decades of despair and struggle.

"On the other hand, as the protest movement has shown, he can be flexible", he said. "Corruption will be eliminated from Armenia", he said. Karen Karapetyan also asked to consider as terminated the fulfillment of his duties of Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. He surrendered to law-enforcement authorities in July 2009 and was subsequently tried and sentenced to seven years in prison on charges stemming from the unrest.

Analysts have said it appeared the ruling party had changed position in a bid to retain control of the legislature. The thousands of protests in the country began on April 13.

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