Georgian PM congratulates Armenia's newly elected Prime Minister

Police, protesters clash in Armenia as leader stays in power

Police, protesters clash in Armenia as leader stays in power

A day earlier, police used tear gas and stun grenades when protesters tried to break through police cordons.

Armenia's former president shifted into the prime minister's seat Tuesday as about 40,000 protesters rallied in the capital to oppose the move, which they saw as a power grab.

Holding Armenian flags and chanting "Armenia without Serzh!" protesters filled Yerevan's main square after lawmakers backed the candidacy of the Kremlin-supported veteran politician with 77 to 17 votes. Under a new political system, he now takes a dominant role as prime minister, and the new president plays a mostly ceremonial role. Yet the country's inherently volatile politics and strategic position make any reprieve fragile at best, as evidenced by the growing protests against Sargsyan's nomination as prime minister in the capital, Yerevan.*.

Six police officers and 40 rioters were injured in clashes and received medical attention, the Health Ministry said. The protesters also disrupted metro operations and stormed university campuses.

On April 14, hundreds of activists led by Pashinian broke into the headquarters of Armenia's Public Radio and occupied the building for an hour in protest against what they said was the failure of the state media to cover their campaign. However, Pashinian later returned sporting a bandaged arm and vowed to continue the demonstrations.

"Our goal right now is to prevent Serzh Sarkisian from becoming the country's leader for a third time without violence and the use of force", said opposition leader Nikol Pashinian who led the protesters.

Parliamentary vice-speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who is the ruling party's spokesman, dismissed the protests as "the opposition's artificial and fake agenda".

Rallies began on Friday when more than 4,000 people took part. Tensions in Armenia often flare up during presidential and parliamentary elections.

Sargsyan's second term as president ended on April 9, and the country is now poised to transition to a parliamentary republic from a presidential republic.

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