Armenian opposition continues protests against ex-president becoming new PM

While police can detain protesters who commit wrongdoing, many of these detentions appear arbitrary, as the protesters seem to have done nothing but legitimately exercise their right to freedom of assembly.

The intent is to disrupt the normal flow of life in downtown Yerevan, blocking traffic on major streets, and then hold evening rallies in Republic Square.

Demonstrators led by Armenian MP Nikol Pashinyan, the leader of the opposition Civil Contract party, began to block the government building on Thursday morning, chanting slogans with calls for a strike in all the state institutions, at the same time urging the police to "hand down weapons".

In the two other large cities of Armenia - Vanadzor and Kapan - demonstrations and protests have not yet observed.

A constitutional amendment approved in 2015 has transferred governing powers from the presidency to the premier.

Sarkisian, a former military officer, has been in charge of the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million people for a decade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Sarkisian late Tuesday to congratulate him on his election, the Kremlin's spokesman said.

He also held the office of prime minister from 2007 to 2008. The press service of the city hall note that "the situation is under control".

"The scale of protests proves that huge public anger has grown over the past few years", political observer Stepan Safaian said.

In this regard, first and foremost, the authorities, political forces, and politicians have much to do.

"The overwhelming majority of the country's population wants political change", he told AFP. Under a new political system, he now takes a dominant role as prime minister, and the new president plays a mostly ceremonial role. Several dozen people were injured in the clashes. A day earlier, police used tear gas and stun grenades when protesters tried to break through police cordons.

  • Joey Payne