Armenia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has bowed to widening public protests against his rule and resigned from his post.
In a Monday statement, Sargsyan said that he was wrong to cling to power after serving for 10 years as president, adding that he resigned to help end a political dispute that widened after parliament elected him as prime minister last Tuesday.
“I leave the post of this country’s prime minister,” said the statement, adding, “The movement on the streets is against my office. I will fulfill your claim.”
Sargsyan’s resignation came right after a main leader of the opposition was released by police.
Hundreds of uniformed officers joined popular demonstrations in the capital Yerevan earlier on Monday, calling for the release of Nikol Pashinyan who had been detained on Sunday for orchestrating the protests.
The officers alongside the protesters chanted “Nikol! Nikol!” and called on Sargsyan to offer his resignation to end the political standoff in the South Caucasus country.
In his Monday statement, Sargsyan admitted he was wrong to reject resignation as the condition set by Pashinyan and the protesters to end the protests. The former president walked out of a meeting with Pashinyan on Sunday minutes after it began, accusing the opposition leader of trying to blackmail the government.
“I appeal to all citizens of the Republic of Armenia and to the ‘Reject Serge’ movement. Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong. This situation requires solutions, but I won’t participate,” read part of the resignation statement by Sargsyan.
Pashinyan addressed protesters right after he was released and said that eleven days of popular protests finally bore fruit.
“I won’t say it later, it’s already clear isn’t it? We have won,” said Pashinyan, adding that he had been kept in isolation by authorities for 24 hours.
The protests escalated last Tuesday when some 40,000 people took to the streets to condemn parliament’s election of Sargsyan as prime minister. The new premier was supposed to rule Armenia with extended powers given to him under the 2015 amendments to the constitution.
Cover photo –
Kentron District, Yerevan