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Armenia opposition figure urges more rallies to finish ‘revolution’

Armenia’s opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan is surrounded by journalists and supporters in Yerevan, April 22, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

A senior opposition figure in Armenia has called on his supporters to take to the streets in the capital, Yerevan, to “finish the revolution,” declaring that he is ready to be the country’s next prime minister.

Lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan has played a key role in leading tens of thousands of people during almost two weeks of rallies that forced Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to finally announce his resignation on Monday.

On Wednesday, Pashinyan urged Armenians to come out “and finish the velvet revolution” after planned talks with the ruling Republican Party were canceled late Tuesday.

“The Republican Party is thinking about taking advantage of Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation and wants to keep power,” Pashinyan said in a video appeal posted on his Facebook on Tuesday. “We can’t agree on the appointment of this party’s representative as prime minister and we can’t allow this corrupted system to continue to exist.”

Pashinyan said that the next step would be the election of a new prime minister by the parliament and the holding of early parliamentary elections.

“If people put this responsibility on me, I’m ready to become the prime minister,” he told reporters, and vowed to try to maintain a balance in foreign policy if he is elected.

Armenians celebrate Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation in downtown Yerevan, April 23, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

In the meantime, Acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, who is a close ally of Sargsyan, called on President Armen Sarkissian to organize another meeting “with the participation of parliamentary and non-parliamentary political forces.”

The president, also an ally of the ousted prime minister, was sworn in earlier this month after being elected by the parliament. He said one of the topics on a rescheduled session could be holding early parliamentary elections, something the opposition wants as well.

Sargsyan, 63, was appointed prime minister this month after serving 10 years as the country’s president.

Armenia revised its constitution in 2015. The document, which was approved in a referendum, made the presidency largely ceremonial but strengthened the office of the prime minister. Sargsyan had formerly promised not to seek the post of the prime minister, but his majority in parliament appointed him to the post.

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