Armenian Prime Minister resigns amid protests

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Yerevan, April 23 (IANS) Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned on Monday after days of large-scale street protests against him.

In a statement posted on his website, Sargsyan said there were several different solutions to the current situation, but that he did not accept any of them so he would be stepping down. “The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand,” he said.

Opposition supporters accused Sargsyan of clinging to power when he was appointed Prime Minister last Tuesday, soon after finishing two five-year terms as President, the BBC reported.

A constitutional reform approved during his presidency in 2015, which came into effect in 2018, transformed Armenia from a presidential republic into a parliamentary republic in which political power was in the hands of the Prime Minister, and the President had a merely symbolic role.

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Protests against Sargysan began on April 13 and have since grown and extended across the country.

The announcement came soon after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was released from detention. Pashinyan had been arrested on Sunday after televised talks with Sargsyan collapsed. Along with Pashinyan, two other opposition politicians and some 200 demonstrators were held.

Sargsyan’s spokesman Hovhannes Nikoghosyan told the BBC that the leader “was behaving responsibly and fulfilling the demands of the street movement which opposed his appointment as Prime Minister”.

“I think his resignation is a clear demonstration of a democracy in force. It’s not that every demonstration in every corner of the world leads to the resignation of the authorities,” Nikoghosyan said.

Protesters chanted “Nikol, Nikol” in the streets on Monday and waved Armenian flags. They were joined by hundreds of uniformed soldiers, despite warnings from the Defence Ministry that any soldiers protesting would be harshly punished.

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Opposition leader Pashinyan congratulated the people on their “victory” following the resignation. “You have won, proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia. And no one can seize this victory from you. I congratulate you, victorious people,” he wrote on Facebook.

–IANS

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