Armenia Unrest Eases as Protest Leader Poised to Gain PM Post

(Bloomberg) -- Armenia’s ruling Republican Party said it will support the candidate for prime minister who gets backing from one-third of the nation’s parliament members in a May 8 vote, clearing the way for opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan to gain the post.

Pashinyan had led protests in the capital of Yerevan over a vote in parliament on Tuesday that denied him the premiership after the Republicans who control the legislature refused to support him. Pashinyan received 45 votes, eight short of the majority he needed to become premier. He called on his supporters to suspend the demonstrations following the ruling party’s statement on Wednesday.

“I will be officially nominated as prime-minister candidate tomorrow by one-third of the parliament members,” Pashinyan said. He told a rally in the Republic Square that he had met with officials from the remaining factions of the parliament and had their support.

Armenia “will have a prime minister elected in the framework of the constitution,” said Vahram Baghdasaryan, the head of faction of the ruling party that holds the majority in the parliament.
Protesters had blocked the highway leading to Armenia’s main airport, as well as major roads in the capital and the entrances to several government ministries. Yerevan metro stations were closed during the demonstrations, while Armenia’s railway traffic was suspended, the Interfax news service reported.

The vote was called after Armenia’s longtime ruler, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned last week following mass demonstrations led by Pashinyan. Sargsyan spent a decade as president before switching posts to become prime minister on April 17, having overseen constitutional reforms that concentrated power in his hands.

The unrest had threatened to deepen a political crisis in the tiny Caucasus nation, where tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of the capital to demand the end of Republican rule amid widespread public anger at poverty and corruption.

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