Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Armenian parliament elects opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister

Armenian parliament elects opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday swiftly congratulated Pashinyan on becoming Armenia's prime minister and said he expects Russian-Armenian ties to grow even closer. A "drastic" change in Armenia foreign policy would only hurt the country, he said. It was also fueled by anger over alleged corruption within Republican Party elite ruling the country since the 1990s.

On May 1, the parliament of Armenia failed to elect the leader of the protest movement Nikol Pashinyan as the head of the government.

On May 8, the RA National Assembly convened a special sitting to discuss the item of the RA Prime Minister's election with the force of law, under Paragraph 3 of Article 140 of the RA Constitutional Law the NA Rules of Procedure.

Not one to do things by halves, Pashinyan on Wednesday will visit the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian territory that broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union crumbled a quarter-century ago.

Throughout Armenia's wave of protests, Moscow has remained publicly neutral, and Pashinyan has consistently said he viewed Moscow as a vital ally.

However, the HHK-dominated parliament quickly appointed him as prime minister, a switch made possible by constitutional changes that weakened the presidency while bolstering the prime minister's powers.

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Lawmakers elected Pashinyan by a 59-42 vote after the leader of the ruling Republican Party, Vahram Baghdasarian, announced his party would give Pashinyan 11 votes - which helped put him over the top. Pashinian has vowed to have good relations with both Russian Federation and the West. "God willing, you will dispel the lingering concerns of the HHK faction", said Baghdasarian".

He has said his first step will be to hold an early parliamentary election.

Party colleagues of Mr Pashinyan spoke in parliament on Tuesday of a "historic day". The prime minister is to receive all powers while President Armen Sargsyan who was elected by the parliament on March 2 is to perform representative functions. "There will be no privileged people in Armenia, period!"

The road ahead will be tough not least because Pashinyan will be stuck with the recalcitrant Republican Party majority indefinitely.

Yet faced with weeks of mass protests, Sargsyan left the premiership on April 23, six days after his election.

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