Denied Power, Armenian Opposition Leader Urges Nationwide Strikes

Ahead of PM vote Armenia's HHK concedes monopolising power was a mistake

Speaking with journalists on Monday, Pashinyan said his main project as interim prime minister would be to organise new free and fair parliamentary elections for the post of prime minister.

The 42-year-old Pashinian was the only candidate in the May 1 vote.

But during nine hours of debate, some MPs accused him of bringing chaos to the streets and questioned whether he was up to the job of prime minister.

Under Armenia's constitution, a second vote for prime minister must be held in seven days' time.

At least 20,000 supporters of Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan rallied in the centre of the Armenian capital on Tuesday as he warned lawmakers in parliament of major unrest if they did not elect him prime minister.

That is likely to have been the most significant threat that tipped the vote against him, said Mr. Sanamyan, the analyst, as the Republican Party has strong ties to the business community, and lawmakers probably want to negotiate some form of guarantees before considering him as a candidate for prime minister. Later, dozens of them took the floor to speak about Pashinyan's candidacy.

Speaking to lawmakers ahead of the vote, Pashinian said that "the Republican Party's attempts at thwarting this ballot will start a political tsunami". He called on his supporters to rally on Tuesday as parliament meets for the vote and then gather at Republic Square in downtown Yerevan to celebrate "celebrate their victory, their irreversible victory". "A total strike is announced", Pashinyan said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

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"We will do everything to eliminate the European Union visa requirement for Armenian citizens", he said, while keeping ties with Russian Federation.

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

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

Noting that many corruption scandals in the world are offshore deals and money overseas, he proposed to establish a special state agency, for example, the ethics committee, for controlling accounts of Armenian officials at any spot all over the world.

The planned day of protest in the small ex-Soviet state sets up a standoff between Pashinyan's movement, which has mobilised thousands of people to take to the streets, and a ruling elite which is determined to hold on to power and still controls the security apparatus.

However, a spokesman for the Republican Party, Eduard Sharmazanov said earlier that should three opposition's factions support Pashinyan's nomination the RPA would not stonewall the election. It had not put up its own candidate, in a bid to ease tensions.

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