Karen Karapetyan congratulates Nikol Pashinyan, resigns as Acting Deputy PM

Karen Karapetyan congratulates Nikol Pashinyan, resigns as Acting Deputy PM

Karen Karapetyan congratulates Nikol Pashinyan, resigns as Acting Deputy PM

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

Members of Pashinyan's Civil Contract party hailed Tuesday as a "historic day", with MP Lena Nazaryan saying it was the culmination of decades of despair and struggle.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian faces an array of challenges, including a parliament dominated by the party he denounced as corrupt and how to resolve the volatile question of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan under the control of ethnic Armenian forces.

After a referendum approved the constitutional reform in 2015, the country is to switch from the presidential to the parliamentary rule.

The Armenian parliament voted 59-42 Tuesday to elect Pashinian, who headed weeks of huge protests.

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Mr Pashinyan has however shown a deft political touch over the past month, running a gauntlet of thorny political questions including whether Armenia should maintain close ties with Russian Federation and whether there should be a purge of former ruling party officials and a criminal trial into the deaths of protesters in 2008.

Pashinyan, a former journalist, has led weeks of anti-government demonstrations, prompting the prime minister to resign.

Analyst Vigen Akopyan said snap elections looked certain.

"The spring of liberation has come to Armenia", one Pashinyan supporter, 56-year-old Sona Paremuzyan, told AFP in Yerevan. Pashinyan also promised that there would be no persecution in the country for political and economic reasons. "There will be no privileged people in Armenia, period!" "Many people will want to see a country that has carried out this revolution of love and solidarity", he said. He worked as Prime Minister for just 7 days. "The victory is that you chose who would be prime minister". He first ran for the parliament in 2007 as the top candidate of an opposition group that challenged then President Robert Kocharian.

"The Republican Party has made the political decision to support the candidate nominated ... for the sake of stability in our country", said Vahram Bagdasaryan, the head of the Republicans' faction in parliament, in a speech before the vote. However, after six days in power, he was ousted amid mass protests on April 23.

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