News & Analysis

Armenian Parliament Will Decide Country’s New PM on May 8

An extraordinary session of Armenia’s parliament will meet on May 8 in order to elect an interim prime minister. The post has been vacant since large protests forced Serzh Sargysan to resign on April 23. Mr Sargsyan, a former president of Armenia, amended the country’s constitution in order to transfer more power to the prime minister, only to take the job himself.

The likely new PM will be opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, who on May 3 suspended nationwide protests after the governing Republican Party indicated it would support his bid to be interim prime minister. On May 1, Mr Pashinyan had called for a nationwide general strike and campaign of civil disobedience following his failure to be elected prime minister in a parliamentary vote: MPs from the Republican Party blocked his appointment.

Tens of thousands of Armenians answered Mr Pashinyan’s call. Protests across the capital Yerevan and other main cities on May 2 included cars and lorries blocking roads, while some demonstrators stopped the route to the capital’s main airport. Tourists had to abandon vehicles and carry their luggage as they completed their journeys on foot. Metro stations in Yerevan were closed as part of the campaign of disobedience, while the entrances to several ministry buildings in Yerevan were blocked. Rail services throughout the country were disrupted.

In response, in a statement late on the evening of May 2, the Republican Party said it would back a candidate nominated by a third of MPs at next week’s vote in parliament. It did not mention Mr Pashinyan by name but said it would not put forward its own candidate. That currently leaves Mr Pashinyan as the only nominee.

If the vote on May 8 fails to elect a prime minister, parliament will be dissolved and elections called.