He Was a Protester. Now, Nikol Pashinyan Is Armenia's Prime Minister

Armenia & Karabakh Velvet Revolution        Velvet Revolution Update

Armenia & Karabakh Velvet Revolution Velvet Revolution Update

Nikol Pashinyan has been elected Armenia's prime minister in the second round of voting in the country's parliament, the National Assembly, with 59 lawmakers giving their ballots for his candidacy and 42 voting against him.

To become prime minister, Pashinyan needed a simple majority - 53 of the 105 votes.

Pashinyan was the only candidate for the position.

Former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign in April in response to a series of protests triggered by his appointment as prime minister, after he had already served as president for a decade.

Though this vote lacked the drama of the previous week's - when the Republicans did not tip their hand about whether or not they would vote for Pashinyan - the ruling party nevertheless signaled that it did not intend to give up the fight.

He has said his first step will be to hold an early parliamentary election.

Pashinyan's protest movement was sparked when Sarksyan, barred by the constitution from seeking another term as president, became prime minister instead. After 30 years of fighting with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region both countries claim, he has said he will make the enclave part of Armenia. There will be no people enjoying privileges in Armenia. He said his ministers will be chosen "as a result of discussions" with his allies and other political groups. Pashinyan claims he's not planning to alter Armenia's current foreign policy course, including the country's membership in Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union or keeping Russian military bases on Armenia's territory.

He has publicly fallen out with other opposition leaders such as the former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Many Armenians have stewed for years about the country's poverty and widespread corruption, but Pashinian was able to galvanize that discontent into a mass movement that was raucous but largely peaceful.

Pashinyan, who was one of the main supporters of Ter-Petrosian, became a target for political presecutions and was forced to spend nearly 1.5 years "underground".

Pashinian went into hiding following the deadly suppression on March 1-2, 2008 of post-election protests in Yerevan. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 but was released the following year under an amnesty. He later called off the demonstrations after the ruling party assured him of its support in his bid for prime minister. The thousands of protests in the country began on April 13.

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