The head of Armenia’s ruling Republican Party has announced that parliament will elect a new prime minister on May 8 as authorities struggle to end weeks of street protests that have gripped the country.
Vahram Baghdasaryan said Thursday that his party would support any candidate, whether opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan or someone else, in the next week vote if the candidate enjoyed the backing of one third of lawmakers in the 105-seat chamber.
Baghdasaryan made the remarks after a meeting with Pashinyan who managed to mobilize tens of thousands of his supporters to shut down the capital Yerevan on Wednesday in protest against the failure of parliament to elect him as prime minister a day earlier. Pashinyan failed to gain the 53 votes he required to secure a majority in parliament.
“We announced that the Republican Party will not put forward a candidate for the premier’s post,” said Baghdasaryan after the meeting.
Pashinyan, who has yet to re-submit his candidacy for the fresh vote in parliament, was also positive after the meeting with Baghdasaryan. He called on his supporters earlier on Thursday to take a pause in the demonstrations.
“Tomorrow, we will stage no actions ... We will be working in parliament and we will try to get the necessary guarantees that the statements made by the Republican Party are true,” said Pashinyan.
The political unrest in Armenia, a landlocked country of around three million people in the South Caucasus region, intensified last month after parliament elected Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia’s president for the past 10 years, as new prime minister.
Tens of thousands took to the streets, accusing Sargsyan of trying to cling to power in the new post which could give him extended powers based on the 2015 amendments to Armenia’s constitution.
Sargsyan resigned in the face of growing protests.
The political uncertainty in Armenia lingers as parliament will be dissolved and early parliamentary elections will be called if the lawmakers fail at a second attempt to choose a new prime minister.