Earlier this month the announcement that Serzh Sargsyan, president of Armenia for the past decade, would become prime minister — and the country’s most powerful figure — sparked protests that have now continued for more than 10 days. Their goal is specific: to get the longstanding leader to stand down.
Today, a large group of unarmed Armenian soldiers joined anti-government protests in the capital Yerevan on Monday in a development the Armenian military said was illegal and would be harshly punished.
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) April 23, 2018
Shortly after, news broke that Mr. Sargsyan had resigned and it was as if a firework of joy had exploded in the square. Many here say it is a victory for the whole nation, that the people stood up for democracy and won. And it came on the eve of April 24, which Armenians worldwide mark as Remembrance Day for the victims of mass killings of Armenians at the turn of the 20th century in Ottoman Turkey.
The announcement came soon after opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was released from detention. Mr. Pashinyan had been arrested on Sunday after televised talks with Mr. Sargsyan collapsed. Along with Mr. Pashinyan, two other opposition politicians and some 200 demonstrators were held
The protest leader of the past fortnight is a former editor of The Armenian Times newspaper, highly critical of governments including that of Sargsyan. In 2004 he survived an alleged assassination attempt; his car blew up but he was not in it.
The Armenian government says an acting prime minister has been appointed to lead the cabinet following the resignation of the premier who was picked for the post.
The government said in a statement on Monday that former Prime Minister Karen Karapetian was asked to step back into the job he held between 2016 and former President Serzh Sargsyan’s appointment as prime minister last week.