Armenian president calls for dialogue as opposition chants ‘Say no to Serzh’

Activists of '#merjirserjin' (Reject Serzh) initiative hold a protest march against recently nominated Armenian Prime Minsiter, former President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan, Armenia, 19 April 2018. [Hayk Baghdasaryan/EPA/EFE]

Armenian President Armen Sargsyan on Thursday (19 April) called for dialogue, as thousands continued to protest on the streets against the appointment of the new prime minister, who was president for 10 years before switching jobs this month.

Parliament on Tuesday voted to allow ex-president Serzh Sargsyan to become premier in the former Soviet republic, despite weeks of angry rallies against such a move. The President and the Prime Minister are not relatives.

Thousands protest in Armenian capital as Sargsyan approved as PM

Tens of thousands rallied in the Armenian capital on Tuesday (17 April) after ex-president Serzh Sargsyan was elected prime minister by the country’s parliament despite several days of protests, an AFP journalist reported from the scene.

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan — …

“I’m confident that the only solution is a dialogue and mutual respect,” Sarkissian said in a statement.

“As a leader of the country, I’m calling on the sides to hold a dialogue in order to find the best solution in the current situation.”

Thousands of opposition activists marched in the centre of Yerevan on Thursday, waving national flags and chanting: “Make a stand, say no to Serzh”.

They blocked entrances to government buildings and staged sit-ins. In the evening about 15,000 protesters were massed in the main square.

Police detained more than 120 activists.

Sargsyan was president from 2008 until 9 April and demonstrators said he was switching jobs but clinging to power.

Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously re-boot their leaders

Armenia’s Serzh Sargsyan was nominated yesterday (11 April) to be the country’s prime minister, days after he stepped down as president. On the same Azerbaijan strongman Ilham Aliyev secured a fourth consecutive term in an early election.

Under a revised constitution approved by referendum in 2015, the prime minister will hold most power while the presidency becomes largely ceremonial.

Sargsyan’s ally Sarkissian was sworn in as president last week after being elected by parliament. Sargsyan said in March, while still president, he would become prime minister to allow him to share the benefit of his experience.

Armenia seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991 but remains dependent on Russia for aid and investment. Many Armenians accuse the government of corruption and mishandling an economy that has struggled to overcome the legacy of central planning.

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