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Supporters of Armenia's opposition leader wave the national flag during a rally in Yerevan Supporters of Armenia's opposition leader wave the national flag during a rally in Yerevan  (AFP or licensors)

Armenian opposition block nominates Prime Minister

An opposition block in Armenia says it wants protest leader Nikol Pashinian to become prime minister amid a major political crisis in the former Soviet nation. The decision comes a day before a vote in parliament.

By Stefan J. Bos

The Armenian opposition coalition that spearheaded two weeks of anti-government rallies confirmed Monday that it had nominated 42-year-old Nikol Pashinian to become prime minister of this impoverished Caucasus Mountains nation.

Pashinian, who was nominated unanimously by his Yelk alliance, led almost two weeks of street protests in April that forced the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan.

Opposition supporters had accused Sargsyan of seeking to become a long-time ruler, after leading Armenia for the maximum allowed ten years as president.

Sargsyan's party has pledged it will not put forward a new candidate for prime minister to prevent an escalation of the political crisis.

Amid the tensions, Armenia's new president Armen Sarkissian has praised what he calls the courage of protesters. "Armenia has shown an example that civil society exists and people are courageous and proud to express their opinion," he noted.

Path of democracy

"So that's the most important thing. That opinion is expressed in many ways by marches on the street [and] by meetings [and] on the pages of [social media] Facebook or Twitter, in many ways," President Sarkissian added.

"So I am proud that people have their opinion and they can express that. That is a fantastic achievement for a country that has decided to go toward the path of democracy."

Protest leader Pashinian and his supporters can count on 47 votes in Parliament. That's just six short of the majority necessary for his election as Armenia's next prime minister.

But Pashinian has vowed to mount a nationwide strike if Parliament doesn't approve his candidacy on Tuesday.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report
30 April 2018, 17:50