Protests escalate over PM nomination dispute in Armenian capital

A demonstrator argues with riot police during a protest against Armenia's ruling Republican party's nomination of former President Serzh Sarksyan as its candidate for prime minister in Yerevan Armenia

In the Armenian capital Yerevan protests against the appointment of Serzh Sargsyan to the post of Prime Minister. The Civil Contract party PM also called upon his supporters to block streets and disrupt public transportation.

Lawmakers voted 77 to 17 to approve the candidacy of the veteran politician after his second and final term as president ended last week.

Prosecutors have opened several criminal cases in connection with the protests, the prosecutor general's office said today. Pashinyan gained another prominent ally on Monday in radical opposition leader Jirayr Sefilian, who publicly endorsed the protests from his jail cell.

Several thousand people in Yerevan protested against the nomination of former president Serzh Sarkisian as prime minister under a new parliamentary political system. According to RFE/RL's Armenian service, Radio Azatutyun, police used batons and stun grenades against protesters.

Protests are expected to grow larger after Pashinian called on people to take part in "the largest rally in Armenia's history" on Tuesday evening.

Cameroon athletes vanish at Commonwealth Games
Weightlifters Olivier Heracles Matam Matam, Petit David Minkoumba and Arcangeline Sonkbou Fouodji are also among the missing. Another boxer Juma Miiro is already assured of a medal after qualifying for the semifinals in the 46-49kg weight category.

On the same day, Human Rights Watch called on the authorities to "refrain from interfering into peaceful assembly".

Armen Sarkisian, who took over as president from Sargsyan earlier this month, issued a statement Tuesday, warning protesters against violence and unlawful actions.

Regional analyst Karena Avedissian told OC Media that in these protests, unlike in previous ones, anger has been more directed towards Serzh Sargsyan. They are an expression of people's frustration with the regime.

A former editor in chief of and owner of Haikakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times), one of the most popular Armenian newspapers, Pashinian was elected to parliament in 2012 as a representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress party.

Opposition politicians say the shift to a parliamentary republic with a powerful prime minister has been created to increase Serzh Sarkisian's grip on power in the impoverished Moscow-allied country.

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