Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Armenian protest leader takes power under Russia's shadow

Armenian protest leader takes power under Russia's shadow

In the second round of vote in the 105-seat parliament, 59 lawmakers backed Pashinyan's candidacy, with 42 voting against and four absent. Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said.

In a speech to parliament moments before the vote, Pashinyan called on Armenia's people to come together behind the new government he will lead.

Putin said in a telegram to Pashinian after his election that he counts on him to "aid the further strengthening of bilateral, allied relations between our countries".

Earlier on Tuesday, the Armenian parliament endorsed Pashinyan as the head of government.

Armenia is also involved in a long-lasting conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave with an ethnic Armenian majority that lies inside Azerbaijan's borders.

Actions against the election of former President Serzh Sargsyan as Armenia's prime minister began on April 13. Russian Federation has two military bases in Armenia and is wary of so-called color revolutions such as occurred in Ukraine and Georgia. The protests were initially limited to opposing former president Serzh Sargsyan's appointment as prime minister, but their demands later expanded to include a new government from outside the ruling Republican Party, and new elections to be held under a new electoral code. "You can absolutely compare him with historical figures like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela", said Eduard Aghajanyan, a city council member from Mr Pashinyan's Civil Contract party, and one of Mr Pashinyan's young, western-educated advisers.

"I hope that the government you will form will continue to do everything possible to strengthen the Armenian independent statehood, strengthen the country's defense capability, raise the standard of living of the people, expand and deepen the interaction of the two Armenian states, and the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora trinity", the message says. "Corruption will be eradicated", Pashinyan said.

He has said he has no intention to cling to power but he will first have to persuade the same parliament to approve his cabinet.

The protests led Sargsyan to resign the post after just a few days.

Armenia's governing Republican Party will provide the additional votes needed to elect a prime minister during a parliamentary vote on Tuesday, a Republican Party lawmaker told Reuters.

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