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Armenian opposition leader calls for strike

02 May 2018

Supporters of Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan wait for the results of the parliament's election of an interim prime minister.

The 42-year-old Pashinian was the only candidate in the May 1 vote. The Republican Party (RPA) faction, the ruling party of Armenia, has 58 seats in the 105-seat unicameral parliament of Armenia - known as the National Assembly. Later, dozens of them took the floor to speak about Pashinyan's candidacy. Pashinyan was nominated as a PM candidate by his party, Yelk ("Way Out") on May 1, and was the sole nominee in the vote held during a special session of parliament. Pashinyan called for his "peaceful, nonviolent disobedience" to continue on Wednesday, asking people in the country of 3 million to block all roads, including access to the global airport in Yerevan.

"I think this is a unique and great opportunity to resolve the domestic political crisis and to register the victory of the people, the kind of victory in which there are no losers", Pashinyan, a former journalist turned lawmaker, said. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999.

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The Republican Party had reportedly given assurances that it would not block Mr Pashinyan's bid for the PM's office.

Over the past few days Pashinyan has secured the backing of two major parties including Prosperous Armenia, giving him a total of 47 votes.

The parliament voted 55 to 45 against making Pashinyan the new prime minister.

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Student Laura Shahverdyan, 22, said the country was united in its demand that the Republican Party's rule must end.

Pashinyan, who has been at the helm of the weeks-long rallies in Armenia, has slammed the ruling party for its decision, calling it an "insult to the people".

"I was hoping to hear a conceptual speech of a candidate for the prime minister, but instead I was witness to a non-program speech which sounds pleasant to people's ears", senior Republican party member Eduard Sharmazanov told the chamber.

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Pashinyan's protest movement had accused ex-leader Sarkisian of a power grab, saying he had failed to tackle a litany of problems like corruption, poverty and the influence of oligarchs. He later changed his mind inviting the supporters to gather on Republic Square at 11 a.m. local time (10 a.m. Moscow Time).

Armenian opposition leader calls for strike