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Pashinian Only Candidate As Armenian Lawmakers Vote To Elect New Leader


Armenian Protests Continue Ahead Of Vote For Interim PM
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WATCH: Armenian Protests Continue Ahead Of Vote For Interim PM

YEREVAN -- Armenian lawmakers vote on May 1 to elect a new prime minister, with Nikol Pashinan -- the leader of massive street protests calling for change -- the only candidate officially nominated for the post.

On his way to a rally of his supporters in Yerevan on April 30, Pashinian told journalists that his top priority if he is elected would be "preparation of free and democratic elections" in Armenia.

"I think this energy has transformed [into] something great in Armenia," he added, commenting on the peaceful protests that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian on April 23.

At the rally, Pashinian told supporters to return to Yerevan's central Republic Square at 11 a.m. local time on May 1 to monitor the vote in parliament on large screens set up overnight.

"The Armenian people will be celebrating their victory here," he said. He urged supporters not to block traffic or to assemble outside the parliament building.

The deadline for nominations expired at 6 p.m. local time on April 30 with Pashinian listed as the only candidate. He was nominated earlier in the day by his Yelk alliance.

Pashinian. 42, already secured the support of all opposition factions in parliament.

After meeting with HHK faction leader Vahram Baghdasarian on April 29, Pashinian told reporters there was no mood among members of the Republican Party "to thwart" the parliamentary vote.

"There is a mood that a prime minister should be elected on May 1," he said, without elaborating.

Baghdasarian told reporters that the HHK would not hinder the election of Pashinian if the other factions in parliament support his candidacy.

No HHK Candidate

Meanwhile, the former ruling-coalition party that has seven seats in parliament, Dashnaktsutyun, announced that it will support Pashinian in the May 1 vote.

Dashnaktsutyun's decision came after the HHK, which has 58 seats in the 105-seat parliament, decided on April 28 that it would not nominate its own candidate.

The second-largest parliamentary faction, the Tsarukian Alliance, also has pledged to support Pashinian. The Tsarukian Alliance controls 31 seats in parliament.

Pashinian's Yelk alliance has nine seats.

That means Pashinian needs support from at least six members of the HHK to be elected.

A spokesman for the HKK said the party decided not to nominate its own candidate in order "to avoid confrontation and destabilization of the country."

HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said Republican lawmakers plan to consider all other candidates, then vote as a bloc.

Pashinian has led weeks of street demonstrations in Armenia that resulted in the resignation of Serzh Sarkisian from the prime minister's post.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, Interfax, and TASS
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