Protest rally against Sargsyan starts in Yerevan

Protest rally against Sargsyan starts in Yerevan

Representatives of the Armenian opposition have blockaded several streets and intersections in Yerevan, continuing a protest action against the nomination of former President Serzh Sargsyan as candidate for prime minister of Armenia, the local media reported.

"We have launched an action of civil disobedience," the opposition head of Armenia's Civil Contract Party member and National Assembly (NA) Yelk Faction, Nikol Pashinyan said, urging the citizens to blockade streets and thoroughfares, to cause disruption to subway services. "Those who don’t want to have Sargsyan as prime minister must get together at Bagramyn Avenue - at the parliamentary building," Pashinyan added.

According to him, "similar actions take place in Gyumri, where activists have blockaded several central streets". 

On April 15, Pashinyan had called on people to block Yerevan’s bridges, streets, and subway.

At about 11.00 Yerevan time, the police has started to disperse the demonstrators.

It is also reported that activists led by Pashinyan broke into the building of the Yerevan Medical College first, and then into the Yerevan Pedagogical University.

"We call for a boycott of classes," Pashinyan said. Subsequently, the demonstrators chanted and went up the university floors.

"You went in, saw that the door is open. Whoever wanted to join [you] has joined you. [Now] come out; we’ll continue our work," a university representative told the protesters.

The Armenian police issued a statement today, which said "all actions of the activists are illegal, they restrict the rights of the citizens to freedom of movement". Law enforcement officers prevent the protesters from getting close to the parliamentary building. However, they so far refrain from the use of force.

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia on April 14 officially nominated the party chairman, former President Serzh Sargsyan, as its candidate for prime minister of the country.

Armenia's new President Armen Sarkisyan, who used to serve as Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom was elected by the parliament on March 2. Under the constitutional reform, Armenia is switching over to a parliamentary system of government. Prior to the constitutional reform that followed the 2015 referendum, Armenian presidents were elected by direct and universal suffrage. When all constitutional amendments finally come into force, Armenia will complete its transition to a parliamentary form of government, with the prime minister exercising executive authority and the president performing mainly representative functions and being in charge of control over compliance with the constitution.