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Armenian Protest Leader Schedules ‘Victory Rally’


ARMENIA - Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan arrives to attend at a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, April 30, 2018

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian on Monday said that the Armenian parliament will almost certainly elect him prime minister and urged supporters to celebrate his victory in Yerevan’s central square.

He told them to gather at Republic Square at 11 a.m. on Tuesday one hour before the start of an extraordinary session of the Armenian parliament during which lawmakers will vote for the new premier.

Pashinian, who is a leader of the opposition Yelk alliance, is the only candidate nominated by parliamentary forces for the country’s top executive post. Three of them -- Yelk, the Tsarukian Bloc, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation -- have officially endorsed him, while the ruling Republican Party (HHK) has pledged not to “obstruct” his candidacy. The HHK controls 58 of the 105 seats in the National Assembly.

The parliament vote will come one week after massive protests organized by Pashinian’s opposition movement forced Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian to resign. Sarkisian was elected prime minister on April 17, nine days after completing his second presidential term. The end of his presidency completed Armenia’s switch to a parliamentary system of government.

“The Armenian people will be celebrating their victory here,” Pashinian told thousands of people who again gathered at Republic Square.

He said they will be able to watch Tuesday’s parliament session live from giant screens to be placed there in the morning. He stressed that they must not block streets or march to the parliament building or any other locations in the city center from the square.

Pashinian had earlier urged supporters to “flood the streets and squares” of the capital and surround the parliament building during the session.

The 42-year-old former journalist has repeatedly said that he intends to serve as prime minister in the interim, until the holding of fresh parliamentary elections demanded by his movement as well as several other political groups. It remains unclear when such polls might take place. Pashinian has said that he is ready to discuss their possible dates with the HHK and other parliamentary forces.

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