Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... World Service reports 'Svartnots Airport'

[BBC World Service reports that main road between Zvartnots international airport and Yerevan has been blockaded by activists]

BBC Radio Report
2 May 2018
First item on World Service audio report

Armenia Opposition Leader Says Protests Will Continue
2 May 2018

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has failed to secure a majority of votes in parliament to become prime minister after weeks of protests forced the previous holder of the post to step down.

Pashinyan, who was the only candidate for the post, had called on individual MPs to cross party lines and support him when the ruling Republican party said that it would not vote for him after a nine-hour session.

In a vote late on Tuesday the MP received 45 votes, eight short of the 53 he needed to have a majority in the 105-seat legislature.

Thousands of opposition supporters had spent the day rallying outside the parliament building to support Pashinyan. While addressing MPs earlier in the day, he warned that Armenia would be struck by a “political tsunami” if he were not appointed as prime minister.

The vote was called after Serzh Sargsyan, who led Armenia as president for 10 years and left office in early April because of term limits, stepped down amid the mass anti-government protests Pashinyan led.

The Elk or “Exit” opposition alliance had announced Pashinyan’s nomination at the start of Tuesday’s session and he later took the floor to answer fellow deputies’ questions.

The Armenian constitution dictates that parliament must reconvene next week for another vote.

Sputnik, Russia
May 1 2018
Armenian Opposition Leader Calls for Strike as He Fails to Become Prime Minister
© REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has not been elected as the country's interim prime minister amid ongoing protests.

The National Assembly o Armenia failed to elect Nikol Pashinyan, the only candidate in the vote, for the post of prime minister.

Forty-three out of the 105 parliamentarians had supported Pahinyan, while he needed 53 votes to get elected. Lawmakers of the ruling Republican Party voted against the opposition leader's candidacy, despite his warnings of a "political tsunami" in case he wasn't elected.

Pashinyan, who has been at the helm of the weeks-long rallies in Armenia, has slammed the ruling party for its decision, calling it an "insult to the people."

In a heated address after the vote, the opposition leader said a nationwide strike will be held on Wednesday. He called on people to block the streets, airports and railway stations, adding that the protests will be peaceful. Pashinyan also urged police to put down their shields and join his movement.

The vote was held amid protests in Armenia that have been ongoing for several weeks. Media reported that about 20,000 people took to the streets of the country's capital, Yerevan, on;Tuesday. The massive rallies started after the opposition protested against ;the nomination of ex-President Serzh Sargsyan as the head of the government. The opposition feared that after ;two terms as the president, Sargsyan was attempting to stay in power.

ARKA, Armenia
May 1 2018
Nikol Pashinyan explains how he will struggle against corruption

Nikol Pashinyan, candidate for prime minister, explained to the Armenian lawmakers how he will struggle against corruption in the country.

On May 1, the National Assembly of Armenia is electing the prime minister.

“It is very important to enhance the effectiveness of the mechanism of property declaration by officials, since now this mechanism gives them room for hiding information about property,” Pashinyan said.

Noting that many corruption scandals in the world are offshore deals and money abroad, he proposed to establish a special state agency, for example, the ethics committee, for controlling accounts of Armenian officials at any spot all over the world. 

Only those complying with this requirement will be eligible to seek any public office.

Nikol Pashinyan, was nominated yesterday by YELQ faction as prime-ministerial candidate. He is the only candidate for this position.

Earlier, the factions of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation/Dashnaktsutiun and Tsarukyan bloc issued statements pledging their support to Nikol Pashinyan.

Eduard Sharmazanov, a member of the board of the Republican Party of Armenia and the vice speaker of the parliament, that the party’s faction will make its decision only after it hear Pashinyan’s program. 

On April 23, Serzh Sargsyan, who was appointed by the Armenian parliament as prime minister amid widespread disaffection for him, resigned under the pressure of mass protests against his premiership.

On the same day, Armen Sarkissian, Armenian president accepted the government’s resignation. 

The Guardian, Nigeria
May 1 2018
Thousands rally as Armenia protest leader warns of ‘political tsunami’

At least 20,000 supporters of Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan rallied in the centre of the Armenian capital on Tuesday as he warned lawmakers in parliament of major unrest if they did not elect him prime minister.

Heeding the 42-year-old's call to take to the streets, huge crowds gathered in and around the capital's Republic Square, clutching tricolour flags and watching a live video stream from the nail-biting special parliamentary session on a giant screen, an AFP journalist reported.

"There is information that (former presidents) Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharyan -- the famous tandem -- are planning to take back power," Pashinyan told lawmakers in parliament.

"I want to warn them -- gentlemen, the mistaken interpretation of people's leniency as a weakness can lead to a genuine political tsunami."

"I call on everyone to take to the streets because once again they want to steal the people's victory," he added.

Moscow-allied Armenia has been in the clutches of a severe political crisis for the past few weeks, with Sarkisian stepping down last week after a decade in power in the face of major protests in the impoverished South Caucasus nation.
Pashinyan, who is the sole candidate for the post of prime minister, insists that only he can rid Armenia of corruption and poverty and conduct free and fair parliamentary elections.

He however is a handful of votes short of a majority and lacks the crucial support of Sarkisian's ruling party to get elected.
Speaking to his supporters in the early hours of Tuesday, Pashinyan said that the ruling party planned to derail the vote and urged hundreds of thousands to take to the streets.

'Republicans cling to power'
A source familiar with the negotiations told AFP that the situation was febrile, saying Pashinyan could still be elected prime minister if several Republican lawmakers defected and voted for him.

"The Republican Party leadership is clinging to power and opposes Pashinyan's election. The outcome of the vote now depends on how individual Republican Party MPs will vote," the source said.

The source earlier said Pashinyan and the Republican Party had struck a backdoor deal several days ago, with the ruling party agreeing to support his bid.

But it appears that the ruling party backed out at the last minute.
In a troubling sign, Sarkisian's party has not publicly announced its official stance prior to the vote, with a senior lawmaker only saying it will not stand in the way of Pashinyan's candidacy.

Over the past few days Pashinyan has secured the backing of two major parties including Prosperous Armenia, giving him a total of 47 votes.
But he was still six votes short of the 53 he needs from the 105-seat legislature, where the Republican Party has a majority.

'Political death sentence
"The Republicans won't be able to thwart the people's victory," 59-year-old financier Armen Nikagosyan told AFP at the rally.

David Babayan, a 25-year-old software specialist, warned that the ruling party's desire to cling to power would backfire.

"They will sign their own political death sentence," he told AFP.

Pashinyan's protest movement had accused ex-leader Sarkisian of a power grab, saying he had failed to tackle a litany of problems like corruption, poverty and the influence of oligarchs.

Many political observers had said in the run-up to the vote that it was highly likely that the hugely popular protest leader would be elected prime minister, saying even the Republican Party appeared to understand that Pashinyan's victory would calm things.

Observers and the international community have expressed concern that the turmoil could destabilise the Moscow-allied nation, which has been locked in a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan for decades.

Russia has urged compromise while the United States has called for "a resolution that reflects the interests of all Armenians".

Panorama, Armenia
May 1 2018
Artsakh Army records another phase of active movement of Azerbaijani forces at the Line of Contact

Active dislocations of the equipment and manpower of the Azerbaijani forces have been recorded at the Line of Contact between Artsakh and Azerbaijan since April 30, Defense Ministry of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR-Artsakh) reported in a statement.

“Defense Army frontline units vigilantly follow the developments on the frontline and exercise full control over the situation,” the statement said.
The release by the ministry is accompanied by a video footage showing the situationat the Line f Contact over the past two days.

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