Armenia protest chief eyes PM job
Armenia’s ruling party has refused to nominate a prime ministerial candidate after leader Serzh Sarkisian stepped down following ongoing protests, as support for opposition leader Nikol Pashinian (pictured) gathers pace.
“The Republican Party has decided not to nominate its candidate,” said Eduard Sharmazanov, the party’s spokesman.
While its majority in parliament means it should be able to choose the premier, the Republicans have decided not to put forward its own candidate.
“By not putting forward a candidate, we will avoid confrontation and an increase in security risks,” Sharmazanov added.
“We are not putting anyone forward in the state’s interest.”
The party would wait until all candidates are nominated today (Monday) and then decide who to back.
Sharmazanov said he doubted Pashinian was a suitable candidate for prime minister.
The Prosperous Armenia Party, which holds 31 seats in the 105-member chamber, said it would probably back Pashinian.
Party leader Gagik Tsarukyan told Kentron TV said: “My team and I will vote for a people’s candidate, whether it’s Nikol Pashinian or anyone else nominated by the people.”
The Republican Party has 58 seats.
Pashinian, an MP who describes himself as “the people’s choice”, has said parliament should elect him this week.
He then wants a parliamentary election under a new electoral law, calling on supporters to continue protests with a non-violent demonstration in the capital Yerevan tomorrow.
“All protest actions, actions of civil disobedience, should be renewed with new force. The victory of the people must be recognised,” the 42-year-old told a protest in the town of Ijevan.
A junior coalition partner, the Dashnaktsutyun Party, said this week it was leaving the government and favoured an early election, but it was unclear whether it would vote for Pashinian, who is associated with activism and opposition.
The US State Department said it was “closely” monitoring the situation.
“As a friend of Armenia, we urge all parties to engage in good faith negotiations on the formation of a new government in accordance with the constitution, and to reach a resolution that reflects the interests of all Armenians,” the US statement said.
“We support the ongoing efforts of the office of President [Armen] Sarkissian to facilitate dialogue between all parties. We continue to commend the peaceful nature of the demonstrations, and trust that the security forces and those exercising their right to peaceful protest will remain committed to nonviolence in the days to come,” it said.
Nikol Pashinian. Picture credit: YouTube