Thousands rally as Armenia lawmakers set to vote on new prime minister

Three factions in the National Assembly of Armenia will vote for the only candidate put forward for the country's prime ministership - opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan.

The vote at a special session of parliament on May 1 came shortly after Vahram Baghdasarian, head of the Republican Party of Armenia's (HHK) parliamentary faction, announced that his party would vote against Pashinian.

Earlier in the day, Pashinyan met with the Republican Party of Armenia's parliamentary faction at the National Assembly buildingentric. However, only 45 parliament members voted in his favor, while he needed to receive at least 53 votes to become prime minister.

The Elk or "Exit" opposition alliance formally announced Mr Pashinian's nomination at the start of the session, and the opposition leader himself later took the floor to answer the deputies' question before the vote was to be held.

Protesters pledged to ramp up pressure on the authorities to force the ruling Republican Party to quit power.

More than two weeks of peaceful antigovernment protests led by Pashinian forced Sarkisian to step down as prime minister after he was Armenia's president for a decade.

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As of this moment, all the streets leading to Yerevan's Republic Square are closed to vehicular traffic due to the thousands of people making their way to the center of town.

Reacting to the announcement, Pashinyan said: "With its discussions, the Republican Party has finally and irreversibly destroyed itself".

The Armenian Constitution dictates that parliament will convene next week for another vote.

"It showed once again that they don't care about us, about the ordinary people", said Gurgen, a 61-year-old unemployed man who was among the crowd.

To the tens of thousands of his supporters who rallied in the capital Yerevan on Sunday, the former newspaper editor declared: "Looking into your eyes, I can say that yes, I am ready - with a great sense of responsibility - to assume the prime ministerial duties".


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