Parliament vote falls short for Armenia's protest leader

Breaking: National Assembly Fails to Elect Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister

Breaking: National Assembly Fails to Elect Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister

Armenia's parliament is set to decide whether to back opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the new prime minister, in a watershed moment for the country.

Elections are the key means to settle issues, Yelk (Way Out) opposition faction MP Aram Sargsyan said in his speech delivered at today's special session of the National Assembly on the election of the new prime minister.

An opposition leader and the founder and head of Civil Contract party, Pashinyan leads a street campaign against the ruling authorities, which has seen thousands of Armenians taking to the streets in massive protests.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan gestures to his supporters at a rally in Yerevan, Armenia April 30, 2018.

Sargsyan led Armenia as president for 10 years until term limits forced him to step down and was made prime minister in mid-April.

But Pashinyan is still six votes short of the 53 he needs from the 105-seat legislature, where the Republican Party has a majority.

"It would be the final stage of the people's victory", he said in parliament.

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Mr. Pashinyan has said that the main task of any interim government is organizing the next parliamentary elections.

Whether or not he gets the job, left open by the resignation of long-time leader Serzh Sarksyan after two weeks of anti-government protests, depends on a parliamentary vote to be held on Tuesday.

Vadz Ghazaryan, an IT professional who immigrated to Canada from Armenia in 2014, said the protests have transformed the political landscape in his homeland, giving people hope that the corrupt political system led by the Republican Party can finally be reformed.

"From 8:15 am tomorrow all roads should be blocked, I announce a general strike", Pashinyan told tens of thousands of supporters gathered in the capital Yerevan's Republic Square.

They also accuse Sarkisian and his dominant Republican Party of widespread corruption and failing to raise living standards.

During debate, Republican lawmakers accused Pashinyan of being an irresponsible rabble-rouser and of lacking qualities to command the Armenian armed forces.

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