Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned unexpectedly on Monday to quell massive anti-government protests over what critics feared was his effort to seize power for life.
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down Monday amid large-scale protests against corruption and his expanded powers, a move that could alter the former Soviet republic's reliance on Russian Federation. The initial demonstration and the following sit-ins and barricading of some other streets during the weekend played out on a relatively small scale, and the protesters left during night hours; therefore, the police did not interfere.
"I hope that the upper echelons of the Republican Party of Armenia will recognize the victory of the non-violent revolution". The demonstrators were against election of Sargsyan to the prime minister's post.
The 42-year-old opposition lawmaker had been arrested shortly after a private Sunday meeting with Sargsyan, which was organized with the aim of peacefully ending the protests.
"I got it wrong", Sarksyan said in a statement issued by his office.
Thousands of anti-government protesters are continuing to rally on the streets of the Armenian capital as the demonstrations enter their second week. "We have come to a clear-cut agreement with the acting prime minister, Karen Karapetyan: all participants of the Velvet Revolution are to be freed immediately", he added.
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Constitutional amendments approved in 2015 transferred power from the presidency to the premiership. The National Assembly must now appoint the people's candidate for prime minister.
In a last-ditch attempt to quell the unrest, police yesterday agreed to release Pashinyan - but it was not enough to save the embattled PM, who announced his resignation in an online statement.
Nikol Pashinyan, who has led the opposition protests against Sarkisian's rule, told a jubilant crowd at Republic Square on Monday that their demand is for the election of a new prime minister must take place in a week.
"Proud citizens of Armenia, you have won!"
The opposition figured recalled how on Monday, despite the authorities suggesting that Sargsyan postpone his resignation, he had insisted on the urgency of the move. The sooner this fact is recognized, the better for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
"This regime that was based on fear of people to speak out and protest, is coming to an end", said Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, an analyst with the Yerevan-based Eurasia Partnership Foundation, which is supported in part by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). "In Armenia, the power has passed to the people".