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Armenian Opposition Names Joint Candidate In Bid To Pressure PM

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian

YEREVAN -- Armenian opposition groups angry over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have united by naming a single candidate they want to head a transitional government until new elections can be held.

The move, announced by 17 opposition parties on December 3, was a sharp increase in pressure on Pashinian, who has been criticized by many Armenians for agreeing to a cease-fire that ended six weeks of fighting with Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway mountainous territory.

He's been criticized by many Armenians for agreeing to a cease-fire that ended the fighting with Azerbaijani forces over the disputed mountainous territory.

The fighting ended about a month ago with the Russian-brokered deal that resulted in Azerbaijan retaking control over much of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Yerevan in recent weeks demanding Pashinian step down, but the prime minister has not given any indication of resigning.

The opposition groups nominated Vazgen Manukian, a former prime minister and ex-defense minister, to head a “transitional, anti-crisis government” until early parliamentary elections could be held.

In their statement, the 17 opposition parties announced they had set up a “pan-Armenian, nonpartisan” movement that would include “representatives of political parties, the intelligentsia, and the general public.”

The aim, they said, includes “getting rid of the catastrophic regime of Armenia in a constitutional way, creating a transitional, anti-crisis government, which will prevent the loss of Armenian statehood, [and] carry out postwar recovery."

Later in the day, hundreds of people blocked streets in the capital, Yerevan, shouting slogans such as "Nikol, leave!"

Several demonstrators were detained by police.