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Police detain some opposition activists as protests continue in downtown Yerevan

17 April, 2018, 18:44 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Armenian opposition leader announces 'velvet revolution' amid protests

Serzh Sargsyan, former Armenian president who now seeks the prime-ministerial seat to rule the country for the third term, this time as premier, in accordance with the new constitution, pointed out key priorities in development of Armenia.

Protests in Armenia continued for a fourth straight day on April 16, growing to an estimated 10,000 people and effectively shutting down Yerevan's downtown. It was the first presidential election since a 2015 constitutional referendum that was created to shift power in Armenia from the presidency to parliament and, mainly, the prime minister.

"I proclaim today the start of a peaceful velvet revolution in Armenia", opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan told a rally in Yerevan, calling on supporters to "paralyse the work of all government agencies".

When the "Electric Yerevan" protests erupted in 2015 following a steep hike in energy prices, Pashinian - who was by then an opposition lawmaker - said police had no right to disperse a peaceful demonstration. However, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia has nominated Sargsyan for the PM, with the opposition saying the former president has broken his vow in order to secure his grip on power. Opposition protests against Serzh Sargsyan being elected as Prime Minister․.

The pro-Moscow politician is expected to be elected by parliament on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, demonstrators marched through the centre of Yerevan and blocked streets, some chanting "Armenia without Serzh" and "Serzh is a liar". The injuries were caused by the special measures that had been taken by the police. The "civil disobedience" actions began early in the morning and quickly attracted thousands of demonstrators, many of them university students.

Ahead of the vote, Sarkisian blamed the opposition for rocking the boat.

The country's new figurehead president, Armen Sarkissian, was sworn in last week but his powers will be weaker under a new parliamentary system of government. Sargsyan, whose party holds a majority in parliament, is set to be easily approved for the premiership on Tuesday.


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