YEREVAN: Armenia's hugely popular protest leader Nikol Pashinyan warned lawmakers of the prospect of major unrest if they did not elect him prime minister during a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.
"There is information that (former presidents) Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharyan -- the famous tandem -- are planning to take back power," Pashinyan said during a nail-biting session of parliament in the capital Yerevan.
"I want to warn them -- gentlemen, the mistaken interpretation of people's leniency as 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.
Pashinyan, the leader of mass protests that forced former president turned prime minister Sarkisian from power in the impoverished South Caucasus nation, is the only candidate for the post of prime minister.
He, however, is a handful of votes short of a majority and lacks the crucial support of the 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.
A source familiar with the negotiations told AFP on Tuesday that the situation was febrile, saying Pashinyan could still be elected prime minister if several lawmakers from the Republican Party defected and voted for him.
Pashinyan is six votes short of the 53 he needs from the 105-seat legislature, where the Republican Party has a majority.
Ex-Soviet Armenia has been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past few weeks, with leader Sarkisian stepping down last week after a decade in power in the face of peaceful protests.