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Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian sounded confident on Sunday about his chances of becoming Armenia’s prime minister after more than two weeks of massive anti-government protests organized by him.

Pashinian said there is now a “very high likelihood” that “at least some deputies” from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will vote for him when the National Assembly picks the next premier on Tuesday.

“This means that we have a great opportunity to turn our de facto victory into a de jure victory, which in turn means that our candidate will be elected prime minister,” he told thousands of supporters that again rallied in Yerevan’s central Republic Square.

“I am prepared to take up the post of Armenia’s prime minister in a responsible manner,” he declared.

Pashinian addressed the crowd hours after meeting with Vahram Baghdasarian, the leader of the HHK’s parliamentary faction, the largest in the National Assembly. Baghdasarian said after the meeting that he and other HHK lawmakers will not “block” Pashinian’s candidacy if it is formally nominated by the three other political forces represented in the parliament.

The opposition Yelk alliance, the Tsarukian Bloc and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) have already endorsed Pashinian for the country’s top executive post. They control 47 parliament seats between them, compared with 58 seats held by the HHK.

Armenia - Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian is hugged by a supporter during a rally in Yerevan, 29 April 2018.
Armenia - Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian is hugged by a supporter during a rally in Yerevan, 29 April 2018.

The HHK faction is due to officially announce its position on the next premier after meeting with Pashinian on Monday. The latter said his supporters should therefore stop blocking streets and roads or taking other “civil disobedience” actions until he reports the results of the planned meeting to them next evening.

But he also cautioned: “This is not yet the end of the story and we must not lose our vigilance.”

Earlier in the day, Pashinian also met with a visiting delegation of Russian parliamentarians headed by Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of a State Duma committee on relations with former Soviet republics. He said the meeting took place in a “very warm atmosphere” and that its participants came away from it as “friends.” Russian-Armenian relations will only deepen further as a result of regime change in Yerevan, he added.

During his unprecedented campaign, Pashinian has repeatedly stated that he is not planning any major change of Armenian foreign policy. In particular, he has ruled out Armenia’s withdrawal from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

Pashinian opposed Armenia’s membership in the EEU as recently as in October last year, saying that it has dealt “very serious blows” to his country’s sovereignty.

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