Armenia parliament fails to elect Nikol Pashinyan as new PM

Armenian protest leader Nikol Pashinyan

Armenia crisis: Opposition leader Pashinyan faces PM vote

The parliament is scheduled to elect the prime minister at noon (11.00 a.m. Moscow Time) on May 1.

Under Armenia's constitution, the failure of parliament to confirm a prime minister triggers a second vote by the legislature that has been scheduled for May 8.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan became the sole candidate for the post of interim prime minister on Monday after a key deadline passed without other candidates registering.

At a meeting with the governing Republican party on Monday, as well as with the opposition bloc Way Out, Pashinyan said that a vote for him on Tuesday would be a vote for an end to the crisis. Later, dozens of them took the floor to speak about Pashinyan's candidacy.

In a heated address after the vote, Pashinyan said a nationwide strike in Armenia would be held starting Wednesday.

He said the party's decision was "an insult" to the people, and appealed to his supporters, gathered in a square near parliament in Yerevan, to wait for him to join them.

"It is very important to enhance the effectiveness of the mechanism of property declaration by officials, since now this mechanism gives them room for hiding information about property", Pashinyan said. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999.

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"The Republican Party leadership is clinging to power and opposes Pashinyan's election".

Pashinyan, a member of parliament in a small opposition party, received 45 votes, eight fewer than necessary to win.

Mr Pashinyan then met his rival for talks, which broke down within minutes when he called for the prime minister's resignation and Mr Sargsyan accused protesters of blackmail.

Pashinyan has promised to rid Armenia of corruption and poverty.

Over the past few days Pashinyan has secured the backing of two major parties including Prosperous Armenia, giving him a total of 47 votes.

"I was hoping to hear a conceptual speech of a candidate for the prime minister, but instead I was witness to a non-program speech which sounds pleasant to people's ears", senior Republican party member Eduard Sharmazanov told the chamber.

The vote against Pashinian might be a deliberate tactic of the Republican party to get the opposition to meet some of its demands half-way. It had not put up its own candidate, in a bid to ease tensions.

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