Ruling party in Armenia withdraws from PM race after protests

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Armenia, a close ally of Russian Federation, has been rocked by two weeks of anti-government protests which led on Monday to the resignation of Serzh Sarksyan as prime minister. Following a referendum held in Dec of 2015, Armenia has effectively shifted from a semi-presidential system of governance to a parliamentary one where the prime minister's office holds most of the executive power in the country, with the president's job now being largely ceremonial.

Armenia's acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan said on Friday that the opposition was monopolising the political process, as anti-government protests continued to engulf the small south Caucasus nation.

Supporters of Armenia's protest leader Nikol Pashinian staged further protests on Sunday - two days ahead of a key election that could see Pashinian rise to power.

On the streets of Armenia's capital again came the protesters.

"We want a guarantee that such an election would be really free, really transparent and really democratic", Pashinyan said. "That is why meetings are now held with opposition leaders and government representatives", Lukyanov said.

Acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian walked out of the earlier talks, accusing Pashinian of delivering ultimatums. When President Putin completed to presidential terms he moved to the position of prime minister before returning to presidency in 2012.

From mid-April in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia, held a rally and protest against the appointment of Serzh Sargsyan to the post of Prime Minister. The opposition controls a total of 47 seats, whereas HHK has 58 and could both block the opposition's candidate and force through their own.

However, the second biggest party in parliament, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), hinted it might support him.

"No geopolitical conspiracy against Russia, will not geopolitical reverses, and the Armenian-Russian relations threatens nothing", - he said. "The country is going towards complete destruction if we keep going this way".

The situation in Armenia is awkward for the Russian leadership.

He also said he was ready to meet with all the ruling party's lawmakers "simultaneously". "It is also a flagrant rejection of the new political reality in Armenia", Richard Giragosian, director at Yereban-based Regional Studies Centre, told Reuters.

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