Armenia parliament swears in new PM despite protests

Clay Curtis
April 19, 2018

Protests also continued in other cities, including Gyumri and Vandzor.

Serzh Sargsyan was elected president of Armenia in 2008 and again in 2013, serving two five-year terms before stepping down.

Police didn't try to disperse the protesters Tuesday, and the rally went on peacefully.

"Block all entrances to the building".

Before he was officially sworn in, Mr Sargsyan told parliament that under the new constitution the prime minister would be "under parliament's control and can be replaced for political reasons". Leader of the Civil Contract party MP Nikol Pashinyan called on opposition members to carry out such actions, TASS reported from the venue.

The protests were aimed at preventing former president Serzh Sargsyan from assuming the position of prime minister.

In 2014 Mr Sarkisian promised that he would did intend becoming prime minister if Armenia switched from a presidential to the parliamentary system.

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Earlier Wednesday, police unblocked some of the streets cut by protesters and detained 84 demonstrators, according to police spokesman Ashot Agaronian.

The constitutional amendments were passed after a referendum in December 2015, with some 63 percent of the voters backing the changes.

Opponents of Serzh Sargsyan, who served as Armenia's president from 2008 and became the country's prime minister Tuesday, blockaded government buildings and paralyzed traffic in the capital.

Pashinyan urged both protesters and police to avoid tensions, provocations and clashes, and demanded everyone to take off their face covers, if they wear one.

"I declare today the launch of a velvet revolution", he said.

Authorities said 46 people, including six police and opposition leader Pashinyan, sought medical help.

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