Armenian parliament elects protest leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister

Armenian parliament elects protest leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister

Pashinyan's rise from a fringe opposition lawmaker to prime minister has been meteoric: Six weeks ago, he was walking through the Armenian countryside, Gandhi-style, protesting what he said was cronyism in the small country of 3 million amid accusations that Sargsyan had altered the constitution to stay in power. "And for me, my goal isn't to become prime minister".

In his final speech the RA Prime Minister's nominee Nikol Pashinyan thanked the ARF, Yelq, Tsarukyan and RPA factions for their expressed positions. He also has a long history of political activism. Like other Ter-Petrosian allies, he was released from jail in May 2011 under a general amnesty declared by the Sarkisian administration.

The Armenian parliament on Tuesday elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's new Prime Minister, after an outpouring of anger against the ruling elite in the former Soviet republic.

On the 10 consecutive day of non-protest rallies in Armenia, lead by Ter-Petrosian, the government announced an emergency situation, and supressed the peaceful protests by brutal force on March 1, 2008, killing 10 and wounding hundreds of peaceful protestors. He subsequently fell out with the ex-president and set up his own party, Civil Contract. It remains to be seen whether the HHK, which continues to control the majority of seats in the parliament, will agree to them.

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During Tuesday's vote, 59 members of parliament backed Pashinyan's candidacy, and 42 voted against him.

Before the vote, the opposition leader pledged that his first visit the head of government would be a visit to Nagorno Karabakh on May 9. Many Armenians saw that as a cynical ploy by Sarskyan to extend his hold on power.

Nikol Pashinian, who was named the new prime minister by parliament on Tuesday, has repeatedly said that he would not seek to change Armenia's cooperation with Russian Federation. He told the police repeatedly that they were friends and fellow Armenians. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has praised the Armenian protest movement. "We now have new political realities and must reckon with them", responded Pashinyan. Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said.

Pashinyan reaffirmed his commitment to "strategic allied relations with Russia" when he again addressed fellow lawmakers just before Tuesday's parliament vote.

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