After weeks of wild protests, Armenia elects new PM

Larry Hoffman
May 9, 2018

Nikol Pashinyan was elected today as Armenian prime minister. They included 13 lawmakers representing Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

YEREVAN, Armenia-The country's newly elected prime minister has promised sweeping changes to the thousands of protesters who rallied around his bid to unseat Armenia's entrenched political elite. In Tuesday's vote, some Republicans switched sides, and Pashinyan won the backing of 59 lawmakers, with 42 voting against him.

Addressing the parliament before the vote, Pashinian pledged to implement "very serious reforms" that would democratize Armenia, strengthen the rule of law and radically improve the domestic business environmental.

Pashinyan set up the Civil Contract party, which entered parliament in 2017 as part of the opposition coalition. The protests were initially limited to opposing former president Serzh Sargsyan's appointment as prime minister, but their demands later expanded to include a new government from outside the ruling Republican Party, and new elections to be held under a new electoral code.

Analyst Vigen Akopyan said snap elections looked certain. "Corruption will be eradicated", Pashinyan said.

Events in the small south Caucuses state have been closely watched in Moscow, an ally of Armenia.

"We chose a new road in Armenia where the driver will be the people and not clans". "People want to protest now against the mayor of Yerevan", he said.

At a concert in the city Monday night, Pashinyan had appeared alongside System of a Down front man Serj Tankian, who gave his support to the former journalist and was also present in parliament for the vote on Tuesday.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Pashinyan on his victory.

The protest movement was sparked when Sargsyan moved to the premier position early in April after he reached a term limit after 10 years as president.

With his fiery rhetoric and penchant for asking awkward questions, Pashinyan quickly became a thorn in the side of the ruling party.

Pashinian declined to shed light on the composition of his cabinet when he spoke to reporters moments after being elected prime minister. However, after six days in power, he was ousted amid mass protests on April 23.

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