Armenia's ruling party says will not stop "people's candidate" becoming PM


Yelk opposition faction on Monday nominated "people's candidate" Nikol Pashinyan as the country's next prime minister, with Tsarukyan Alliance announcing its decision to support his candidacy.

However, other than his staunch opposition to former Prime Minister Sargsyan, which saw him jailed for more than a year in 2008, the young politician is yet to formulate what he stands for.

He needs the backing of some members of the ruling Republican Party, which has 58 seats.

The parliament is scheduled to elect prime minister on May 1. "Those professionals who are working with government structures will continue their work", he said.

In the small town of Dilijan two or three hundred locals were waiting for Pashinyan to arrive for a rally, holding Armenian flags and beating drums.

Sargsyan's Republican party holds a majority in parliament, which made him premier after he was termed out as president.

Pashinyan met on Sunday with Russian lawmakers, telling them his premiership would not threaten the South Caucasus country's close ties with Moscow.

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Sargsyan was chosen by lawmakers as prime minister after approving governance changes that diminished the presidency's power and bolstered the prime minister's.

Opposition leader and founder and head of Civil Contract party Nikol Pashinyan leads a campaign against the ruling authorities, which has seen thousands of Armenians take to the streets in massive protests. The statement followed a meeting earlier that day with Pashinyan, who has been leading the anti-government protests.

Although demonstrations have been peaceful, the upheaval has threatened to destabilize Armenia, a close ally of Russian Federation in a volatile region riven by a decades-long, low-level conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Speaking with journalists on Monday, Pashinyan said his main project as interim prime minister would be to organise new free and fair parliamentary elections for the post of prime minister. The demonstrators oppose the ruling Republican party. The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) announced on Saturday that they would not nominate any candidate for prime minister.

One of the Kremlin's closest allies, Armenia hosts a Russian military base and is dependent on investments and aid from Moscow.

The United States on Saturday called on all parties in the Armenian political crisis to engage in "good faith" negotiations after the country's veteran ruler Serzh Sarkisian stepped down following mass protests.