Opposition protesters bring Armenia cities to standstill

International | Written by : IANS| Updated:

Opposition protesters bring Armenia cities to standstill

Yerevan   :  Armenia was brought to a standstill on Wednesday as thousands of protesters blocked key roads and government buildings in several cities, after Parliament refused to elect their protest leader Nikol Pashinyan as the new Prime Minister.

Pashinyan's supporters heeded his call for a nationwide day of action, blocking roads leading to Yerevan's main airport. Tourists had to abandon vehicles and carry their luggage. Metro stations in the capital were closed as part of the campaign of disobedience, CNN reported. 

Protesters also blocked roads to government buildings, including the Ministry of Defence, demonstrator Marina Gasparyan said.

Pashinyan, 42, lost a parliamentary vote on Tuesday to become interim Prime Minister. The vote followed the resignation last week of former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, who was forced to step down amid weeks of mass demonstrations, led by Pashinyan's movement. Sargsyan had been in power since the last 10 years.

Protests broke out in other cities also. Entrances to several ministry buildings were blockaded and rail services were also disrupted. Trains were not running between Yerevan and the second city, Gyumri, and checkpoints near the Georgian border were affected, the BBC reported. 

According to reports, there were ongoing "acts of civil disobedience in Armenia's towns and villages, including Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor.

In Vanadzor city, a large crowd of protesters blockaded the mayor's office and other civic buildings. Three thousand workers from a local sewing factory walked out and cut off some of Vanadzor's biggest roads.

Pashinyan told the BBC on Wednesday that the protesters were fighting for their own rights and dignity. "I want to be clear, it isn't a fight for Nikol Pashinyan becoming Prime Minister, it's a fight for human rights, for democracy, for rule of law."

On Wednesday, he posted a message on social media urging protesters to halt disruption at the airport, while other opposition politicians appealed to people not to impede emergency services. Police tried to move protesters off the roads.

Parliament is expected to try again to elect a prime minister on May 8.