Thousands rally as Armenia protest leader warns of 'political tsunami'

US government looks forward to working closely with the new government in Armenia - Assistant Secretary of State

Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has warned the country's parliament that his exclusion from power could escalate demonstrations on the streets.

Lawmakers of the ruling Republican Party voted against the opposition leader's candidacy, despite his warnings of a "political tsunami" in case he wasn't elected.

With the current development of events, they will be held according to the old electoral code, which presupposes a vote on both national and territorial lists of candidates for deputies of political parties and their blocs. Absent from the voting was one Republican MPs, Grigor Avalyan (who submitted his resignation from the NA today), and two members of the Prosperous Armenia Party (Tsarukyan faction), Ishkhan Zakaryan and Melik Manukyan.

Less than a week later, on April 23, Sargsyan resigned amid continuing protests.

The Armenian constitution dictates that parliament must reconvene next week for another vote.

He also called for protesters to continue "nonviolent, peaceful acts of civil disobedience" - including the blocking of all roads and highways in the country, the closure of railroads, and airports.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 opposition supporters spent the day peacefully rallying outside the parliament building to support Pashinian. The Republican Party has dominated Armenian politics since 1999. "A total strike is announced", Pashinyan said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.

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"The Republican Party leadership is clinging to power and opposes Pashinyan's election".

During the parliamentary debate, Republican Party lawmakers accused Mr Pashinyan or being an irresponsible rabble-rouser, they alleged he recruited children to join his protest movement, and said he lacked the qualities to command the Armenian armed forces.

On Monday, thousands of Armenians marched through the capital, demanding that Mr Pashinyan be appointed prime minister.

Demonstrators had poured onto the streets of Yerevan in protest at the move, accusing him of trying to cling to power.

"It would be necessary to hold early parliamentary elections after an interim government is formed".

While Pashinyan was the only candidate nominated to be the next prime minister before Tuesday, the National Assembly is controlled by Sargsyan's Republicans.

Pashinyan supporters waved the Armenian flag and carried balloons in the national colours.

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