‘I was wrong’: Armenia PM quits after mass protests

‘I was wrong’: Armenia PM quits after mass protests

YEREVAN - Agence France-Presse
‘I was wrong’: Armenia PM quits after mass protests

Armenia’s Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned on April 23 after mass protests against his election, seen as a blatant power grab by the opposition.

“I am leaving the post of the country’s leader,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his press service, just days after he took office.
“Nikol Pashinyan was right,” he said referring to the leader of the protests. “I was wrong,” as reported by AFP.

After serving for a decade as president, Sargsyan was last week elected prime minister by lawmakers in a move the opposition said was designed to extend his rule under a new parliamentary system of government.

Constitutional amendments approved in 2015 transferred power from the presidency to the premiership.

Sargsyan, a shrewd former military officer, was first elected president of the impoverished, Moscow-allied country in 2008.

After the 2008 vote, 10 people died in clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.

He was re-elected in 2013, with his second and final term ending April 9.

Earlier on April 23, protest leader Pashinyan was freed after police detained him on April 22 following failed talks with Sargsyan.

“So has everyone now understood that we have won?” Pashinyan told supporters shortly after his release in the capital Yerevan and before Sargsyan resigned.

Flag-waving supporters cheered the 42-year-old opposition MP and some kissed and hugged him.

An AFP reporter saw people opening a champagne bottle and handing Pashinyan a glass on the 11th day of demonstrations in the country of 2.9 million people.

Prosecutors had said that Pashinyan and two other opposition politicians “were detained as they were committing socially dangerous acts.”

Sargsyan had earlier refused to go and on April 22 stormed out of televised talks with Pashinyan, accusing him of “blackmail.”