Armenians protest leader's plan to stay in power

Anti-Serzh Sargsyan

Thousands Crowd Central Yerevan Ahead Of Prime Minister Vote

An Associated Press reporter saw several people wounded, with at least four being taken away by ambulances, including protest leader Nikol Pashinian. The protesters blocked traffic, which paralyzed for the third day. One of its main platforms was criticizing constitutional changes approved following a December 2015 referendum changing Armenia's form of government to a parliamentary system instead of a quasi-presidential system. According to Armenian media, they are chanting "Asadul", urging students to boycott the educational process.

Authorities said 46 people, including six policemen, sought medical help.

"All detained individuals are suspected of committing administrative offenses", he said.

Pashinian reached out to these and other opposition forces when he addressed the demonstrators in Liberty Square.

The protests are aimed at blocking the country's former president's return to power in the new role of the all-powerful prime minister.

"Serzh Sarkisian will not be Armenia's prime minister", declared the 42-year-old former journalist.

Police blocked their way with barbed wire and used batons, as well as stun and sound grenades, to disperse the protesters.

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Pashinian, who was injured in the face and arms, was briefly taken to hospital.

His calls were answered by several thousand people who flocked to the parliament building. In a speech to demonstrators, he told them that "You are powerful, and you are going to win today [.] Serzh Sargsyan will not be Armenia's prime minister".

Some built barricades using cast-iron benches and metal trash cans.

As a result, presidential veto powers were stripped from the president and the post was downgraded to a figurehead position elected by parliament every seven years rather than by a direct popular vote. This was stated by the leader of the movement, the Deputy of the Armenian Parliament Nikol Pashinyan, reports the Chronicle.info with reference to the Correspondent.

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.

After Sargsyan was first elected president in February 2008, 10 people died in bloody clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.

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