YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The opposition lawmaker who sparked two weeks of protests that threw Armenia into a political crisis called on supporters Monday to gather outside parliament when a new prime minister is chosen, a vote he said he’s confident of winning.
With the selection scheduled for Tuesday, Nikol Pashinian so far is the only candidate formally nominated for the prime minister’s post. The governing Republican Party holds 58 seats in the 105-member parliament.
Party officials said over the weekend that Republican lawmakers would vote as a bloc, leaving uncertain prospects for Pashinian. He is part of the Elk or “Exit” alliance, an opposition faction that would provide 47 votes.
If he is chosen, it would be the culmination of a dramatic transfer of power that unfolded in three weeks.
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The next prime minister will replace Serzh Sargsyan, who led Armenia as president for 10 years and left office on April 9 because of term limits. Parliament made Sargsyan prime minister a week later under a new government structure that gave the premier more power than the president.
At a Monday evening rally, Pashinian said he felt “the high likelihood” that he would be named prime minister. He asked supporters to gather outside the parliament building to watch a broadcast of the vote, which is expected after 11 a.m. (0700 GMT.)
“We will have a holiday; we will celebrate our victory together,” he declared.
But Pashinian also has vowed to mount a nationwide strike if fellow lawmakers don’t put him in the post. Some participants at his rally said they were worried about what will happen, if he isn’t picked. .
“The people won’t accept any other decision — Pashinian must become prime minister. Or else the protests will continue, and nobody can predict their consequences,” Erik Arutyunian, 47, said.
Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.