Armenian Protest Leader Gets Second Chance At Prime Minister In Parliamentary Vote

Armenian Protest Leader Gets Second Chance At Prime Minister In Parliamentary Vote

Armenia's parliament has elected backbencher and protest leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's new prime minister, capping his historic, peaceful rebellion and sending his supporters into the streets again to celebrate.

But after leading weeks of mass protests against the ruling party, Pashinyan succeeded in dramatically transforming the political landscape in the country and was elected PM by Armenia's parliament on Tuesday.

Pashinyan needed at least 53 votes in the 105-seat unicameral parliament to be named Prime Minister.

During the first ballot on May 1, the parliament of Armenia rejected the candidacy of Pashinyan by a majority of votes.

OSCE observers noted that the previous parliamentary elections, in 2017, were "tainted by credible information about vote-buying, and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies".

Armenia's turmoil began on April 17 when Sargsyan, who had previously served two five-year terms as president, was appointed prime minister - just eight days after his presidency ended.

Pashinyan reiterated his intention not to alter Armenia's current foreign policy course, including the country's membership in Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union or keeping Russian military bases on Armenia's territory. "Jobs will appear, people will return, corruption will disappear", said demonstrator Tigran Azizian, a 42-year-old city subway worker.

Armenia is a country of about three million people nestled in mountains between Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

"The victory is not that I was elected prime minister", Pashinyan told the crowd.

"On the other hand, as the protest movement has shown, he can be flexible", he said. Karen Karapetyan also asked to consider as terminated the fulfillment of his duties of Acting Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.

Pashinian went on to play a major role in a broad-based opposition movement launched by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition candidate in a hotly disputed presidential election held in February 2008. He was released from jail in 2011 under a prisoner amnesty scheme and elected to parliament the next year.

A year later Pashinian was elected to the National Assembly on the ticket of Ter-Petrosian's Armenian National Congress (HAK). He later called off the demonstrations after the ruling party assured him of its support in his bid for prime minister.