Since April, thousands of anti-government demonstrators marched on the streets of the Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan to protest Serzh Sargsyan’s move from prime minister to the presidency. Mr. Sargsyan is the leader of the Republican Party that has dominated Armenian politics since 1999. In 2015, Armenia voted for a parliamentary system that gave more authority to the prime minister and Sargsyan vowed to not remain in power.
However, on Tuesday, April 17, Sargsyan was elected prime minister by parliament within a few days of leaving presidential office. The election was followed by a breakdown of talks with key rival Nikol Pashinyan of the ruling Republican Party. Mr Pashinyan, 42, and some 200 protesters were later also arrested. Sargsyan later resigned and admitted he “got it wrong”.
Armenians have since been calling for a “people’s candidate” who opposes Sargsyan.
Uncertainty regarding Armenia’s political leadership remains as opposition leader Pashinyan has failed in his bid to become interim prime minister, unable to successfully garner enough votes. Pashinyan received 45 votes out of a required 53 on Tuesday to secure a majority in the 105-seat chamber, despite being the only candidate for the post of interim PM.
The Republican Party did not put up a candidate to allow for easing of tensions at the capital.
According to latest reports, Pashinyan has urged thousands of supporters in Yerevan to begin a civil disobedience campaign including a general strike on Wednesday morning, with roads, railways and airports blocked.
Russia’s role in the Armenian crisis has also been widely reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin in a statement said:
“I am starting consultations with parliamentary and non-parliamentary representatives to discuss the situation that has been come about in the country and a way out of it.”
As per the Armenian constitution, the parliament must reconvene next week for another vote.
[Deutsche Welle] [The Guardian] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Gleb Garanich/Reuters via Al Jazeera]