Armenia ruling party blocks protest leader's bid to be PM


In a Facebook Live broadcast after midnight local time, Pashinyan said that he received information that during a late night meeting led by former prime minister Serzh Sarkisian, the Republican Party of Armenia has chose to sabotage the election of a prime minister.

Armenia's ruling party on Tuesday blocked a bid by opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan to become prime minister, setting up a standoff between the elite that has run the state for over a decade and thousands of Pashinyan's supporters camped on the streets. However, only 45 parliament members voted in his favor, while he needed to receive at least 53 votes to become prime minister.

Former prime minister Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign on April 23, and Pashinyan is now seeking the appointment as prime minister by the National Assembly of what he calls "the people's candidate", - i.e. himself - the formation of an interim government and snap parliamentary elections.

Protesters pledged to ramp up pressure on the authorities to force the ruling Republican Party to quit power.

In the run-up to the vote, the Republic Party said it would not hinder the election of Pashinian if the other factions in parliament support his candidacy.

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Shortly after the vote, Pashinyan left parliament and headed towards the square, where tens of thousands of his supporters were gathered.

On Sunday, RPA faction head Vahram Bagdasaryan said that the party would not impede Pashinyan's election.

"We will have a holiday; we will celebrate our victory together", he declared.

Many political observers said it was highly likely that the hugely popular protest leader would be elected prime minister - a whirlwind development that was unimaginable just a few weeks ago in the poor South Caucasus country of 2.9 million people. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999.

Pashinyan, who spearheaded the mass protests that led to the resignation of the veteran leader Sezh Sarkisian last month, has insisted that only he can rid the poor ex-Soviet nation of corruption and poverty and conduct free and fair elections.