Armenia protest leader says ruling party to thwart his PM bid

Yerevan (AFP) –


Thousands of Armenians massed in the capital Tuesday ahead a parliament vote to pick a new prime minister, with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan accusing the ruling party of planning to derail his bid for the top job.

Pashinyan, the leader of mass protests that forced veteran leader Serzh Sarkisian from power last month in the impoverished Caucasus nation, is the only candidate for the post of prime minister.

But he is short a handful of votes in parliament and the support of the ruling Republican Party is crucial.

A source familiar with negotiations between Pashinyan and the Republican Party told AFP that they struck a deal several days ago, with the ruling party agreeing to support his bid.

But it appears that agreement may no longer be in place, leaving Pashinyan potentially short of votes.

"During a nighttime meeting headed by Serzh Sarkisian the Republicans decided to derail tomorrow's election of a prime minister," Pashinyan said in a video address released in the early hours of Tuesday, urging hundreds of thousands to take to the streets.

The vote by lawmakers is set to take place later Tuesday.