Armenian Prime Minister resigns after protests
The Prime Minister of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has stepped down following days of mass demonstrations in the streets of the capital Yerevan over what was seen as an unconstitutional power grab by the former president.
Sargsyan previously served two, five-year terms as president of the former Soviet Republic. First elected in 2008, he served as the country’s head of state until he was appointed prime minister earlier this month.
Over the weekend Nikol Pashinyan, an opposition MP and leader of the protests, was arrested but was released Monday shortly before the announcement.
“Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong,” Sargsyan said in a statement published on the state-owned Armenpress website.
“The situation has several solutions, but I will not take any of them. That is not mine. I am leaving office of the country’s leader, of Prime Minister. The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand. Peace, harmony and reasoning for our country,” he said.
Sargsyan took office as Prime Minister after being elected by parliament on April 17, eight days after his presidency ended.
His handpicked successor, Armen Sargsyan, no relation, was sworn in as President on April 9.
Under constitutional changes promoted by Serzh Sargsyan in 2015, the office of prime minister in Armenia became more powerful than that of president leading to concern of authoritarian rule descending on the country.
Sargsyan had previously said he would not try to become prime minster.
Reports and video posted on social media showed scenes of jubilation in the capital Yerevan.
Sargsyan, 63, was a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.