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Protests continue against Armenia’s new PM Sargsyan

Armenian special police forces detain an opposition supporter during an anti-government rally in front of the entrance of the government headquarters in central Yerevan on April 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Hundreds have again taken to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest the parliament’s election of former president Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister.

Police detained dozens of anti-government demonstrators on Thursday and took them to the local police station in Yerevan, reports said.

The protest is part of an ongoing campaign of “civil disobedience” meant to show public opposition to Sargsyan’s efforts to cling to power in a new parliamentary system of government. The former military officer ruled Armenia under a presidential system during the past 10 years.

The peak of the protests was on Tuesday when some 40,000 demonstrated in the capital after parliament elected Sargsyan as the new prime minister. Under amendments to the constitution passed in 2015, governing powers will be transferred from the presidency to the premier.

Demonstrators block the entrance of the Armenian government building during a protest after parliament voted to allow former president Serzh Sargsyan to become prime minister, in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 19, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Some 16,000 people also protested on Wednesday in central Yerevan’s Republic Square.

Police on Monday also clashed with protesters who tried to open their way to the parliament compound. The clashes left 46 people injured, including firebrand opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan, who has led the popular campaign against Sargsyan.

Pashinyan led an attempt by protesters on Thursday to blockade the entrance to the government headquarters in central Yerevan. Dozens were arrested in the clashes that erupted after police intervened.

Armenia's former president and current Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan (Photo by AFP)

Armenia’s new President Armen Sarkisian was sworn in last week but he has much less power under the new governance system.

Sargsyan had a relatively difficult time ruling Armenia over the past 10 years due to economic hardships hampering his government’s efforts to improve welfare for Armenia’s 2.9 million people as well as renewed military clashes with Azerbaijan, an ally of the West in the South Caucasus, over the thorny issue of Karabakh.

Sargsyan has faced similar protests in the past. Some 10 people died and hundreds were injured in the clashes that erupted after he was elected president in 2008.  

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