Protests sweep Armenian opposition leader into PM
11 May, 2018
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was elected Armenia's prime minister on 8 May, driven by weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism in the ex-Soviet republic. In a vote in parliament, 59 lawmakers backed Pashinyan's candidacy, including some from the ruling Republican Party, with 42 voting against.
The election of Pashinyan, a former newspaper editor who spent time in prison for fomenting unrest, marks a dramatic rupture with the cadre of rulers who have run Armenia since the late 1990s. He faces tough challenges. The civil service and security apparatus are dominated by allies of his ousted predecessor Serzh Sargsyan. He must also reckon with a parliament where the Republican Party, allied to Sargsyan, holds a majority of seats and is sceptical about his revolution.
Pashinyan, born in 1975, has said his first step will be to hold an early parliamentary election. In the meantime, he said he would carry out root-and-branch reforms to cut out graft and cronyism. He said he would fire some holdovers from the ruling elite, among them the defence minister, but said there would be no “pogrom”.
Moscow, which has a military base in Armenia, is wary of an uncontrolled change of power which would pull the country out of its orbit, but Pashinyan has offered assurances that he will not break with the Kremlin.