Armenia protesters rally for PM's impeachment

AFP , Monday 10 Jun 2024

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside Armenia's parliament on Monday to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's ouster over territory he handed over to neighbouring Azerbaijan to settle a decades-old dispute.

Armenia protests
Protesters rally against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan near a government building in Yerevan, Armenia. AP

 

The wave of mass protests began in April when Yerevan agreed to hand back to Baku territory it had controlled since the 1990s.

The rivals have fought two wars over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Azerbaijan recaptured last year from Armenian separatists who held sway over the enclave for three decades.

Pashinyan's rule remains unshaken despite the challenge mounted by the protest leader, a charismatic archbishop named Bagrat Galstanyan.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the legislature in Yerevan after holding an overnight vigil under pouring rain.

An AFP journalist reported a heavy police presence in the area, where protesters are camping in tents.

Several thousand protesters had gathered Sunday outside the government headquarters before marching to parliament.

Galstanyan had in a speech to protesters urged parliament to hold an extraordinary session on Tuesday to vote on impeachment.

If successful, an interim government must then call early parliamentary elections. He called on protesters on Sunday to hold a four-day non-stop rally outside parliament to step up pressure.

Galstanyan has temporarily stepped down from his religious duties to run for prime minister.

But he is not eligible to hold office under Armenian law because he has dual citizenship -- holding a Canadian passport.

His campaign seems unlikely to succeed because opposition lawmakers lack enough seats in parliament to launch the procedure.

Last week, Armenia officially returned control over four border villages it seized decades earlier to Azerbaijan, a decision Pashinyan has defended as a step towards securing peace with Baku.

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