General strike paralyzes life of Yerevan

General strike paralyzes life of Yerevan

Protests resumed in Armenia this morning after the parliament rejected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the prime minister. Several hundreds of students blocked the central streets in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan and also the highways connecting the city with the airport.

"We demand that the Republican Party withdraw from power and vote for the people’s candidate for premier Nikol Pashinyan," leader of the students’ movement David Petrosyan said.
Police are on alert but have not so far interfered in the protests.

The protesters also blocked the road leading to the airport Zvartnots.

In addition, the Armenian National Assembly failed today to hold its regular session because the number of members of the parliament was not sufficient to do it. Of 105 MPs, 53 are necessary for any session, but only 27 came. 

Ara Babloyan, the parliament speaker, said that in accordance with the regulations, the present lawmakers have to wait for absent MPs for no more than four hours.   

Vahe Enfiajyan, secretary of Tsarukyan bloc’s faction, said that the faction will boycott the session. “Taking into account unprecedented things in the country, Tsarukyan faction announces a political boycott and will not attend the current four-day session of the parliament,” ARKA cited him as saying.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that the European Union reiterates its support to Armenia in its efforts to build a prosperous and democratic society. "It remains crucial that all parties involved, including the law enforcement agencies and those exercising their right of freedom of assembly and expression, avoid confrontation and show restraint and responsibility, as has been the case in recent days. The European Union continues to encourage all stakeholders, including civil society, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, in view of the democratic formation of a new government in accordance with the Constitution and in the interest of all Armenians," her statement says.

Earlier Pashinyan called on his supporters to launch large-scale civil disobedience actions at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. Moscow Time) on May 2. He urged his supporters to block all roads in the republic and the ways to the airports not to allow the authorities to "steal people’s victory."

Speaking at the parliament’s session on Tuesday, Pashinyan ruled out the scenario of a violent struggle for power.

On Tuesday, Armenia’s parliament held a special session to elect a new prime minister. Pashinyan was the only candidate. However, only 45 parliament members voted in his favor, while he needed to receive at least 53 votes to become prime minister.

Under Armenia’s legislation, in case parliament members fail to elect a prime minister, another round of voting should be held within seven days. If the second attempt also fails, the parliament must be dissolved.

The parliament will hold another session to elect a prime minister on May 8.

Protests against the election of former President Serzh Sargsyan as Armenia's Prime Minister have started on April 13. The opposition accused Sargsyan, who was twice elected president, of poor governance and deterioration of economic situation in the country. Despite the protests, the Armenian Parliament elected Sargsyan as Head of the Cabinet on the same day. On April 23, Sargsyan resigned amid continuing protests.