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Armenian Ruling Party Opens Door to Regime Change

“People’s candidate” Pashinyan poised to become head of a system dominated by the old guard he wants to uproot.

30 April 2018

Armenia’s opposition Yelk Alliance nominated party co-leader Nikol Pashinyan to be prime minister today, as the budding protest movement Pashinyan stands at the doorstep of power.

 

The Tsarukyan Alliance – the largest opposition grouping – said it would support Pashinyan’s candidacy, Panorama.am reports.

 

Parliament will meet tomorrow to elect a new prime minister to replace Serzh Sargsyan, whose surprise resignation a week ago in the face of days of huge protests delivered one of the biggest political shocks since independence 28 years ago.

 

Pashinyan was scheduled to meet with lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) today. The party yesterday said it will not obstruct the election of an opposition member as prime minister, according to News.am.

 

Nikol Pashinyan. Image via Ավետիսյան 91/Wikimedia Commons.

 

The RPA has ruled alone or in a coalition continuously since 1995 and has held the presidency since 2003.

 

Republican Party parliamentary leader Vahram Baghdasaryan said if the three opposition forces propose a single candidate to replace Sargsyan, “we will not be any obstruction to the candidate, who will be called the people’s candidate.”

 

The party proposed a suspension of protest rallies and street blockades so the election can take place in an orderly fashion.

 

New elections are likely to take place soon, The Independent writes. For now the RPA remains the largest single party, controlling 58 of 105 seats in parliament. Yelk (Exit) holds nine seats after winning just under 8 percent of the vote in the April 2017 national elections.

 

 

  • Pashinyan emerged as a sharp government critic when he edited the Haykakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times) newspaper. In 2004 he survived an assassination attempt, the Armenian service of RFE/RL reported.

 

  • He went into hiding after the 2008 presidential election, won by Sargsyan amid turmoil as supporters of the losing candidate clashed with police, leading to 10 deaths. He surrendered in 2009 and spent nearly two years in prison, RFE reported in 2013, the year he and other dissidents formed a political group aimed at unseating Sargsyan.

 

  • In 2016 Pashinyan’s Civic Contract and two other small parties merged to form the liberal Yelk Alliance. Its campaign platform in 2017 included a call to reexamine Armenian membership of the Eurasian Economic Union and work toward a deeper economic pact with the European Union. It also called for re-opening the Turkish-Armenian border, according to EVN Report.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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