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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Armenia Parliament Elects Opposition Leader Pashinyan as PM

Corruption is Everywhere - but can it be uprooted in Armenia?

By Sara Shayanian (UPI)

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected by lawmakers Tuesday to become the nation's next prime minister, a bid that has been underway for weeks. Photo by Zurab Kurtsikdze/EPA-EFE

Armenia's Parliament on Tuesday elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan to become the country's next prime minister.

Lawmakers elected Pashinyan by a 59-42 vote after the leader of the ruling Republican Party, Vahram Baghdasarian, announced his party would give Pashinyan 11 votes -- which helped put him over the top.

Pashinyan was set to meet Armenian President Armen Sarkisian Tuesday to formally sign into power the appointment. He then has five days to propose a cabinet and two weeks to submit his government program for approval.

"All people are equal before the law. There will be no people enjoying privileges in Armenia. That's it. Full stop," the newly elected prime minister said, reaffirming support for human rights protections and an end to corruption.

The previous prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned last month after just six days in office. He'd been the target of anti-corruption protests.

After failing to get enough votes from the National Assembly, Pashinyan called on supporters to block streets, airports, the railway and other public transportation. He later called off the demonstrations after the ruling party assured him of its support in his bid for prime minister.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his congratulations Tuesday, saying he hoped the election will "contribute to efforts to further strengthen friendly, allied relations between our countries."

Armenia, a small country in the Caucasus region straddling Europe and Asia, is a former Soviet republic bounded by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran.