Armenia opposition stages show of force

Armenian opposition supporters hold a rally in Yerevan, Armenia April 29, 2018.

:: Supporters of Armenia’s protest leader Nikol Pashinyan took to the streets Sunday, hoping that a massive show of force will propel the opposition politician to power in a key election two days away.

Ex-Soviet Armenia has been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past two weeks, with the country’s veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan stepping down after a decade in power in the face of major protests.

Pashinyan, 42, has thrown down the gauntlet, saying his colleagues in Parliament should elect him to succeed Sargsyan. On Saturday, two major parties said they would back Pashinyan, but the opposition lawmaker was still six votes short of the 53 he needs from the 105-seat legislature. AFP

He needs the backing of the ruling Republican Party, which has 58 seats, and said it would announce its position on Monday.

Eduard Sharmazanov, vice speaker of Parliament and the ruling party’s spokesman, has said he personally doubted that Pashinyan was a suitable candidate for the top job.

In a bid to break the deadlock and drum up support, Pashinyan called on his supporters to block roads in the capital Yerevan throughout the day on Sunday and to stage a jumbo rally in the evening.

“Our fantastic rallies and meetings across the country have affected the situation in a powerful way,” he told supporters in a video address.

“Everything will be fine, we just need to consolidate our victory.”

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