An opposition figure in Armenia who has led days of protests recently has called on his supporters to take a pause in a crusade of “civil disobedience” as he tries to secure assurances that the ruling party will support him to become the country’s next prime minister.
“Tomorrow, we will stage no actions,” Nikol Pashinyan — a relatively unknown figure until recent unrest — told tens of thousands of his supporters convened at the Republic Square in the capital, Yerevan, on Wednesday.
“You will be resting tomorrow. We will be working in parliament and we will try to get the necessary guarantees that the statements made by the Republican Party are true,” he added.
Pashinyan’s comments came a day after he failed to receive the 53 votes he required to secure a majority in the 105-seat parliament, which is filled with legislators from the Republican Party of former prime minister Serzh Sargsyan, who resigned amid the unrest provoked by Pashinyan.
Pashinyan had threatened before the Tuesday vote that the parliament’s failure to elect him would only escalate the situation.
His supporters shut down Yerevan on Wednesday, on a call by him after the vote.
Crisis erupted in Armenia last month, when Sargsyan — long the president and forbidden by the constitution from standing for a third term — became prime minister, now an all-powerful office. His election to the post triggered huge protest rallies, led by Pashinyan, in the Eurasian country, with tens of thousands taking to the streets, accusing him of trying to cling on to power.
Sargsyan, a former military officer, had a relatively difficult time ruling Armenia over the past 10 years due to economic hardships hampering his government’s efforts to improve welfare for Armenia’s 2.9 million people as well as renewed military clashes with Azerbaijan, an ally of the West in the South Caucasus, over the thorny issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinyan also told his supporters on Wednesday to listen out for further announcements, saying that if the negotiations with the ruling party did not go according to plan, he might need to call them back out onto the streets. “We should be vigilant,” he said.
A re-run of the vote to elect a prime minister is slated for on May 8. Under Armenia’s law, if the parliament fails again to elect a new premier with majority support, the legislature will be dissolved and early parliamentary elections called.
Pashinyan had spent two years in prison for fomenting unrest after the presidential election in 2008.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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