Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Armenian parliament elects protest leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister

Armenian parliament elects protest leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister

On May 1, the governing party, which holds 58 out of 105 seats in Parliament, voted down his bid to become interim prime minister.

Armenians have seen their country, once the poster child for democratization following the collapse of the Soviet Union, stagnate in the hands of an entrenched oligarchy while many citizens choose to leave, Broers said.

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.

Pashinyan's protest movement was sparked when Sarksyan, barred by the constitution from seeking another term as president, became prime minister instead. Mr Pashinyan has offered assurances that he will not break with the Kremlin.

"The spring of liberation has come to Armenia", one Pashinyan supporter, 56-year-old Sona Paremuzyan, told AFP in Yerevan.

Thousands of supporters gathered to celebrate in the capital of Yerevan as Pashinyan won the vote 59 to 42, according to the BBC.

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

His protest movement began with a march of non-violence on March 31, demanding Sargsyan to step down.

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, however, he swapped his street attire for a sleek suit, transforming himself into a polished politician with a soft handshake and a bashful smile.

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Shortly after he was named prime minister Tuesday, Nikol Pashinian said he would make a trip to the region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces for more than two decades.

Critics accuse Sarkisian and his Republicans of corruption and failure to tackle widespread poverty and the influence of powerful oligarchs in the tiny South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million people. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 but was released the following year under an amnesty.

Analyst Vigen Hakobyan called Pashinyan a "classic revolutionary" who is ready to act decisively without hesitation. He said his ministers will be chosen "as a result of discussions" with his allies and other political groups.

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

He worked as a reporter and newspaper editor before getting involved in politics.

Later, Pashinyan brought together his ties with the Armenian National Congress and organized his own small and rather marginalized political party "Civil Agreement" which entered Parliament in a political alliance with the "Republic Party of Armenia" lead by former PM Aram Sargsyan and "Bright Armenia" party, making up 8% in Parliament.

"Russian officials have insisted that they respect Armenians' right to peaceful change", he said.

Karapetyan was appointed prime minister in September 2016, after the resignation of Hovik Abrahamyan.

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