Protests escalate over PM nomination dispute in Armenian capital

Pashinyan We are here to free Armenia from Serzh Sargsyan's power

The ruling Republican Party and the government-friendly Armenian Revolutionary Federation formally nominated Sarkisian as candidate for the post of prime minister on Monday despite the protests.

An Associated Press reporter saw several people wounded, with at least four being taken away by ambulances, including protest leader Nikol Pashinian.

Pashinian led his supporters to Bagramian Avenue after spending several hours blocking traffic through most streets in downtown Yerevan.

When Armenian lawmaker Nikol Pashinian received a police notice warning that the protests he was leading were unlawful, few were surprised when he ripped it up on the spot without even bothering to read it. As a result, 46 people, including six police officers, were injured, Armenia's Health Ministry reported.

Throughout the day, Pashinyan kept stressing that "the police are our brothers" and repeatedly apologized to policemen for the inconvenience caused by the demonstrations and called on protesters not to attack police, verbally or otherwise.

Demonstrators have vowed to keep protesting round the clock.

"Serzh Sargsyan must see that he has no Armenia to rule in and no people to rule over".

Local media report that before he was officially sworn in, Mr Sargsyan told parliament that under the new constitution the prime minister would be "under parliament's control and can be replaced for political reasons".

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

A shrewd former military officer, Sargsyan has been in charge of the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million since winning a presidential vote in 2008.

A former editor in chief of and owner of Haikakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times), one of the most popular Armenian newspapers, Pashinian was elected to parliament in 2012 as a representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress party. The protests a decade ago drew tens of thousands of supporters of Sargsyan's defeated rival Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, ending in bloody clashes that claimed the lives of 10 people, after which a 20-day state of emergency was imposed.

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