Thousands protest in Armenia after talks between government, opposition collapse | News | DW | 25.04.2018
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Thousands protest in Armenia after talks between government, opposition collapse

Armenia's acting prime minister has suggested the country hold snap elections. The opposition demands a "people's candidate" who is not from the ruling Republican Party as prime minister.

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Protests resume in Armenian capital, Yerevan

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan on Wednesday after talks between the opposition and acting prime minister were cancelled.

Protest leader Nikol Pashinian had been scheduled to meet with acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan to discuss a transfer of power after massive anti-government protests forced Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to resign on Monday.

Karapetyan cancelled the meeting with Pashinian, accusing him of issuing "unilateral demands."

Pashinian and his supporters are demanding a parliament choose a "people's candidate" not from the ruling Republican Party as prime minister.

Possible snap elections

Karapetyan, an ally of Sargsyan, suggested the nation of 2.9 million people hold snap elections to test Pashinian's popularity.

"What does 'people's candidate' mean?" Karapetyan asked at a news conference. "I don't know any country where a prime minister is chosen like that. There are elections for that. If he (Pashinian) is the people's choice, that means the people will choose him."

Earlier, Pashinian said the opposition would boycott snap elections if a Republican Party figure was chosen as prime minster. Only about 8 percent of seats in parliament are held by political parties loyal to Pashinian.

Read more: Opinion: Armenians must forge their own future

Armenia: Serzh Sargsyan resignation a blow to Russia foreign policy

'Steal the victory of the revolution'

Armen Grigoryan, an opposition activist, told DW that protesters were demanding snap elections, a temporary government represented by the people and free and fair elections under a new electoral code.

"It seems that someone is trying to steal the victory of the revolution and that person is the (acting) prime minister," he said.

Protesters accuse Sargsyan, who served as president for a decade before taking up the prime minister post last week, of attempting a power grab under a new parliamentary system of government.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinian (picture-alliance/dpa/TASS/A. Geodakyan)

Pashinian has suggested he would be prime minister if the people support him.

Kremlin weighs in

Separately, Armenia's President Armen Sargsyan, a largely ceremonial figure not related to the former prime minister, said he would speak with civil society groups and parliament to find a way out of the crisis.

"I am starting consultations with parliamentary and non-parliamentary representatives to discuss the situation that has been come about in the country and a way out of it," the president said in a statement.

The presidential office in Russia, one of Armenia's closest allies, said Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Sargsyan had agreed in a telephone conversation on the need for restraint during the crisis.

"Vladimir Putin and Armen Sargsyan underlined that all political forces in the country need to exercise ... a readiness to solve existing problems via constructive dialogue," it said.

amp, cw/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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