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Armenian Protest Leader Reassured By Parliament Majority


Armenia - Supporters of opposition leader Nikol Pashinian demosntrate in Yerevan's Republic Square, 2 May 2018.

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday he has received fresh assurances that Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) will not prevent the parliament from choosing him as Armenia’s prime minister next week.

Pashinian appealed to Armenians shortly after holding what he called an “important” meeting with the HHK’s parliamentary leader, Vahram Baghdasarian.

“He reaffirmed that the HHK faction in the National Assembly will assist the people’s candidate in getting elected prime minister,” he said in a video message posted on Facebook.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the HHK faction promised to “help the candidate to be nominated by one-third of the parliament to become prime minister” at a session of the National Assembly slated for May 8.

Pashinian said in that regard that more one-third of the parliament’s 105 members have already formally backed his bid for power. “We have already collected the necessary number of signatures … and we consider my nomination a fait accompli,” said Pashinian.

The signatures are understood to have come from deputies representing Pashinian’s Yelk bloc, another opposition alliance led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Tsarukian made clear on Wednesday that his bloc, which controls 31 parliament seats, will continue to support Pashinian.

Armenia - A protest in Republic Square in Yerevan, 2 May 2018.
Armenia - A protest in Republic Square in Yerevan, 2 May 2018.

The parliament voted by 56 to 45 against Pashinian’s premiership bid following a long and heated debate on Tuesday. The 42-year-old oppositionist, who has triggered an unprecedented protest movement in the country, responded by urging supporters to resume their peaceful protests. Tens of thousands of them blocked streets and roads across the country on Wednesday.

Pashinian told supporters to again gather in Yerevan’s Republic Square on May 8. In the meantime, he said, he “will stay in touch” with them because “we must be able to very quickly react to any possible change of the political situation.”

Pashinian also said: “You have dubbed our revolution a revolution of love and tolerance, and I hope that we will stick to that principle regardless of the political situation. Our aim is to establish national unity and solidarity. We must rule out any propaganda of hatred, an atmosphere of hatred.”

It was an apparent reference to a litany of abusive comments and messages directed, mainly through social media, at senior HHK figures in recent days. Several HHK lawmakers have closed their Facebook pages as a result. Some of them claim to have also received threats of violence.

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