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Protest against ex-leader's move in Armenia

17 April 2018

Meeting of the Parliament of Armenia passes in conditions when thousands of people blocked streets of Yerevan, protesting against the election of Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister.

In the Armenian capital Yerevan protests against the appointment of Serzh Sargsyan to the post of Prime Minister.

About 60 protesters have been detained and charged by the police, with several dozen people requiring medical treatment - including Mr Pashinyan.

The protesters led by Nikol Pashinian, a prominent opposition figure, were stopped while marching along Marshal Bagramian Avenue from a nearby street intersection in downtown Yerevan which has been occupied by them since Friday.

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"Our goal right now is to prevent Serzh Sarkisian from becoming the country's leader for a third time without violence and the use of force", said opposition leader Nikol Pashinian who led the protesters. However, Pashinian later returned sporting a bandaged arm and vowed to continue the demonstrations.

Last month, Armenia's National Assembly elected onetime Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian as the country's next president, replacing the long-tenured Serzh Sargsyan as head of state.

Local media report that before he was officially sworn in, Mr Sargsyan told parliament that under the new constitution the prime minister would be "under parliament's control and can be replaced for political reasons".

Security forces clad in full riot gear used batons and stun grenades against the crowd when it attempted to break through a police cordon several hundred meters away from the parliament building. The "civil disobedience" actions began early in the morning and quickly attracted thousands of demonstrators, many of them university students. Armenia's HHK-controlled parliament is due to vote for the next premier on Monday.

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A shrewd former military officer, Sarkisian has been in charge of the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million since winning a presidential vote in 2008.

Even though the two men share the same surname, they are not related.

After Sargsyan was first elected president in February 2008, 10 people died in bloody clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.

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Protest against ex-leader's move in Armenia