Armenian President Steps In to Mediate Political Standoff

Armenian protest leader rallies support for premier bid

"All eyes are on the election of the new prime minister on May 1, and on what happens next, as Nikol Pashinyan says he won't accept any candidate from the ruling Republican party".

Sargsyan won two presidential terms by a landslide before moving to the role of prime minister earlier this year.

Armenia's parliament votes May 1 to elect a new prime minister. Members of the Armenian opposition Yelk parliamentary faction, led by its chairman Nikol Pashinyan, had a meeting today with a delegation of Russian State Duma (lower parliament chamber), Yelk press secretary Tigran Avinyan said.

"[Acting PM and ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) Vice Chairman] Karen Karapetyan also is in telephonic conversations, negotiations with various countries".

Pashinian said he met early on April 29 with President Armen Sarkisian for talks about Armenia's "domestic political situation, the latest developments, and possible solutions". Tsarukyan has said he will vote for Pashinian who will now stand unopposed. "That is why meetings are now held with opposition leaders and government representatives", Lukyanov said. The ruling Republican Party of Armenia will not nominate its candidate.

HHK holds 58 seats in the 105-seat parliament, and without its support Pashinian is unlikely to be elected.

"In accordance to paragraph 3, article 140 of the constitutional law on the parliament's rules of procedure, I announce that the issue of election of a Prime Minister will be debated on May 1 at 12:00, in an extraordinary session of parliament convened by virtue of law", Speaker Ara Babloyan said.

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"Either I will become prime minister or there won't be a prime minister in Armenia", Pashinyan told protesters Thursday.

However, the second biggest party in parliament, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), hinted it might support him.

Russia - Armenia's main ally and trading partner - has said it will not intervene in the standoff. Dashnaktsutyun has also said it will vote for Pashinian.

He said the meeting took place in a rather constructive atmosphere. "The country is going towards complete destruction if we keep going this way".

The Kremlin is watching its small but strategic ally, where Russian Federation has a military base, with concern.

Russian border guards patrol Armenia's border with Turkey and Iran.

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