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Armenian opposition leader calls for suspension of protests

Sergei Gapon, AFP | Supporters of the Armenian opposition gather for a rally in Yerevan on May 2, 2018.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday called an end to a wave of protests and said all parties would support his bid to run for prime minister again next week.

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"The issue has practically been solved," he told tens of thousands of people during a rally in the capital Yerevan.

"All factions said they would support my candidacy."

"Kids, you are going to school tomorrow. We are suspending protests and going to have a rest."

Lawmakers will convene on May 8 for a new extraordinary session to elect a prime minister, after the ruling Republican party on Tuesday sank the hugely popular opposition leader's bid to take power, voting him down in parliament.

In response, tens of thousands of Armenians on Wednesday launched a nationwide general strike, blocking key transport links, suspending railway traffic across the country and virtually shutting down Yerevan and other cities.

Armenia's ex foreign minister speaks to FRANCE 24

After the unprecedented show of defiance, Vahram Baghdasaryan, the head of the ruling party's parliamentary faction, indicated the Republicans were finally ready to back Pashinyan.

He said the Republicans would back a candidate nominated by one third of lawmakers in accordance with legislation.

>> Nikol Pashinyan: The man who took down Armenia’s prime minister

Pashinyan said his candidacy would be formally submitted on Thursday and called a jumbo rally for next Tuesday, urging 500,000 people to gather and "seal our victory".

Many were sceptical that the Republicans were truly ready to back Pashinyan, but some analysts said they caved in in a bid to retain a parliamentary majority.

If lawmakers fail to elect a prime minister for a second time, the legislature will be dissolved and early elections called.

(AFP)

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