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Armenian parliament sets vote on new prime minister for next week

Armenian protest leader Nikol Pashinian, center, speaks to protesters gathered at Republic Square in Yerevan on April 25.
(Narek Aleksanyan / Associated Press)

The Armenian parliament on Thursday called for an extraordinary session next week to vote for a new prime minister after the country was plunged into a political crisis with the abrupt resignation of its leader.

Serzh Sargsyan, who had ruled the country for 10 years, surprised many when he stepped down as prime minister Monday amid massive anti-government protests.

Parliament said in a statement that a vote would be held Tuesday to elect a new leader, potentially spelling a way out of the former Soviet republic’s biggest political crisis in years.

Nikol Pashinian, who leads the opposition and wants to be nominated for prime minister, held talks earlier Thursday with parliamentary factions to secure support for his candidacy.

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Sargsyan’s party still holds a majority in the parliament, however.

Sargsyan won two presidential terms by landslide votes before moving to the role of prime minister this year.

His popularity has waned, however, amid allegations of cronyism and rampant corruption.

The opposition rallies that began two weeks ago focused on protesting against what was seen as Sargsyan’s attempt to stay in power indefinitely.

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Tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied Wednesday in Yerevan, capital of the impoverished country, calling for Pashinian to become prime minister.

Protesters on Thursday morning blocked traffic on major roads in and outside Yerevan before retreating.

Pashinian is calling for another major protest in the capital later Thursday as an apparent show of popular support for the opposition.


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