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Armenia Parliament elects opposition leader Pashinyan as PM

Armenia Parliament elects opposition leader Pashinyan as PM

Members of Pashinyan's Civil Contract party hailed Tuesday as a "historic day", with MP Lena Nazaryan saying it was the culmination of decades of despair and struggle.

Armenia's parliament has opened a session to elect a prime minister, for which opposition lawmaker and protest leader Nikol Pashinian is the only nominee. In Tuesday's vote, some Republicans switched sides, and Pashinyan won the backing of 59 lawmakers, with 42 voting against him.

However, Armenia has changed its government structure, giving the prime minister more power than the presidency. But his Republican party, which holds a majority in parliament, thwarted Pashinyan's first bid to replace him.

Mr Pashinyan has however shown a deft political touch over the past month, running a gauntlet of thorny political questions including whether Armenia should maintain close ties with Russian Federation and whether there should be a purge of former ruling party officials and a criminal trial into the deaths of protesters in 2008.

The protests led Sargsyan to resign the post after just a few days. "God willing, you will dispel the lingering concerns of the HHK faction", said Baghdasarian".

Supporters of Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan attend a rally in downtown Yerevan.

Newly elected as a Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinian greets his supporters gathered in Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia, Tuesday, May 8, 2018. "In Armenia, the page of political and economic persecution has been closed", he said.

Pashinyan's victory amounts to a peaceful revolution in Armenia, a small nation of around 3 million people squeezed between Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The father-of-four has earned a reputation as a man of the people, wearing his trademark camouflage T-shirt during protests and carrying a massive rucksack which he says contains "everything I need" - including a chocolate bar and a laptop.

Pashinian, is a former journalist who edited Armenia's best-selling daily newspaper, "Haykakan Zhamanak", from 1999-2012.

As EADaily reported earlier, Serzh Sargsyan resigned on April 23 amidst protest actions against his election.

The Republican Party, which has a majority of parliament seats, later underlined the difficulty by declaring it's now in opposition.