The Armenian parliament will meet on May 1 to elect the country’s new prime minister after two weeks of sustained street protests which forced the previous premier, Serzh Sarkisian, to step down.
Sarkisian’s successor is expected to serve on an interim basis, until the holding of snap parliamentary elections now demanded by most Armenian political factions.
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian, the main organizer of the massive protests, has been pressing the National Assembly controlled by Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) to appoint him to that post. Pashinian claimed on Wednesday that some HHK parliamentarians are ready to vote for him.
In an overnight statement, the HHK’s parliamentary faction offered to “discuss any issues with all sides without preconditions.” The statement followed its members’ meeting with Sarkisian and acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian.
Pashinian refused to comment on the HHK statement as he again led thousands of supporters marching in Yerevan on Thursday.He also declined a comment on his late-night meeting with Gagik Tsarukian, a businessman leading the second largest parliamentary force, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).
The BHK on Wednesday told its members to take to the streets and join Pashinian’s movement. But it has yet to officially confirm whether its parliament deputies will vote to elect Pashinian prime minister.
While continuing to rally supporters, the 42-year-old opposition leader urged Armenians to stop blocking streets in the capital for now. He argued that the daily blockades are increasingly abused by unruly car drivers, resulting in traffic chaos.
Meanwhile, President Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, hailed Pashinian’s “popular movement” on Thursday in his latest address to the nation. “We are now opening a new page of Armenian history,” he said. “We live in a New Armenia.”
Sarkissian called on the parliamentary forces to jointly end the political crisis which was triggered by Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial decision to extend his decade-long rule.