Armenia ruling party blocks protest leader's bid to be prime minister

Armenia ruling party blocks protest leader's bid to be prime minister

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on May 1 urged supporters to take to the streets to pressure parliament to choose him as the 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 made a decision to thwart the scheduled vote.

Pashinyan promised that his first action in the case of appointment as Prime Minister will be the steps to prepare for early parliamentary elections.

At a meeting with the governing Republican party on Monday, as well as with the opposition bloc Way Out, Pashinyan said that a vote for him on Tuesday would be a vote for an end to the crisis.

Outside parliament in Yerevan thousands of Armenians had rallied in support of the 42-year-old dissident whose protest movement Elk (The Way Out) last month forced the resignation of president-turned-premier Serzh Sargsyan.

The protests erupted after Mr. Sargsyan, operating under a 2015 constitutional referendum that had transferred most presidential powers to the prime minister, tried to skirt term limits by changing jobs.

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.

"It showed once again that they don't care about us, about the ordinary people", said Gurgen, a 61-year-old unemployed man who was among the crowd.

During the parliamentary debate, Republican Party lawmakers accused Mr Pashinyan or being an irresponsible rabble-rouser, they alleged he recruited children to join his protest movement, and said he lacked the qualities to command the Armenian armed forces.

Pashinyan has promised to rid Armenia of corruption and poverty.

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