What you need to know about the crisis in Armenia

Armenia is in turmoil after parliament rejected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister, sparking widespread protests.

Published: 02nd May 2018 06:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd May 2018 06:52 PM   |  A+A-

Supporters of the opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian dance and sing as they block a road to the airport just outside Yerevan. (Photo | AP)

Supporters of the opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian dance and sing as they block a road to the airport just outside Yerevan. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

YEREVAN: The former Soviet republic of Armenia is in turmoil after parliament rejected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister, sparking widespread protests.

With parliament set to vote again on the premiership on Tuesday, according to the speaker, thousands of demonstrators closed down the capital on Wednesday.

Here is a timeline of events.

- President seeks PM post -
On April 11, Serzh Sarkisian's ruling Republican Party announces his nomination for the premiership at the end of his second and final term as president.

Constitutional amendments approved in 2015 strengthened the role of the prime minister and made that of the president largely ceremonial, turning the impoverished Moscow-allied country into a parliamentary republic.

- Mass demonstrations -
From April 13 several thousand people protest in the capital Yerevan against what they viewed as a power grab by Sarkisian.

On April 16 several dozen are injured in clashes with the police as protestors, led by opposition leader and MP Pashinyan, try to approach parliament. 

- Sarkisian elected -
On April 17 Armenia's parliament elects Sarkisian, 63, as prime minister. 

About 40,000 people gather in Yerevan's Republic Square to protest, chanting "Armenia without Serzh!".

Protests continue over the following days.

- Opposition leader arrested -
On April 22 talks between Pashinyan, 42, and Sarkisian last only minutes with the new prime minister storming out after the opposition leader demands his resignation.

Pashinyan and two other opposition deputies are detained shortly afterwards.

- Prime minister quits -
On April 23 Pashinyan is freed and Sarkisian resigns as prime minister, saying the opposition leader was right and "I was wrong".

Armenians cheer and set off fireworks.

"You have won, the proud citizens of Armenia!" Pashinyan writes on Facebook.

The following day he says he is "ready to lead the country" and calls for early legislative elections.

- Russia as mediator -
On April 26 parliament announces a new prime minister will be elected at an extraordinary sitting on May 1.

Armenia turns to Russia for mediation, senior officials holding talks with President Vladimir Putin and other top members of government.

Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, says the settlement of the crisis should be "solely within the legal framework".

- Pashinyan rejected as PM - 
On April 27 authorities refuse to negotiate with Pashinyan, accusing him of dictating his "agenda" as mass rallies are held in his support. 

Tens of thousands of Pashinyan supporters gather again in Yerevan over the next days, hoping a massive show of force ahead of the parliamentary vote they hope will help propel him to power.

But on May 1 Pashinyan -- the sole candidate for prime minister -- receives only 45 of the necessary 53 votes after the ruling party withholds support. 

In reaction, Pashinyan calls for protesters to block key transport links in what he calls a "general strike".

- Capital paralysed -
On May 2 tens of thousands of people converge on the capital, blocking roads and government buildings in an explosion of anger over parliament's rejection of Pashinyan. 

Shops are closed and suburban trains disrupted.

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