Armenia’s parliament is set to hold a vote to elect the country’s next prime minister after weeks of anti-government rallies that forced then-Premier Serzh Sargsyan to resign.
The 42-year-old opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, from the “Way Out” (ELK) Party, who has led the protests, is the only candidate in the inter-parliamentary vote on Tuesday as the country’s ruling Republican Party (RPA) has failed to nominate a candidate in its bid to ease tensions.
Although all 47 opposition lawmakers have vowed to cast their votes for Pashinyan, he needs as least six votes from the 58 RPA members of parliament to become Armenia’s next prime minister.
However, local media outlets reported early on Tuesday that the sole candidate for the post has announced in a video message posted on his Facebook page that the Republican deputies have decided to thwart the scheduled vote. He subsequently called on his supporters to pour out on the streets and assemble at the capital’s Republic Square in protest.
Speaking in an interview with AFP on Monday, Pashinyan said, “It was clear that Armenia is in the grip of a deep political crisis. For me it was obvious that the Armenian people waited for the right moment to speak up.”
Local observers, however, have expressed concerns about potential turmoil in Armenia, which could destabilize the Russia-allied country, which has been locked in a territorial dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan for decades.
The development comes as the European Union has expressed support for the country in “its efforts to build a prosperous and democratic society.”
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters joined a protest rally in Yerevan on Sunday evening, hoping that a massive show of strength would thrust their leader to power.
“Looking into your eyes, I can say that yes, I am ready — with a great sense of responsibility — to assume the prime ministerial duties,” Pashinyan announced in an address before the overjoyed protesters.
Following days of frenetic negotiations, the country’s two major parties, including the Prosperous Armenia — which has 31 seats in the parliament — announced on Saturday that they would back Pashinyan. However, he needs 53 votes from the 105-seat parliament to rise to premiership.
Sargsyan resigned from his new post of prime minister last week after serving as president for a decade in the face of the protests. Opponents accused him of a power grab, claiming that he had failed to tackle a litany of problems, including corruption, poverty, and the influence of oligarchs.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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