Massive celebration in Armenia after Prime Minister resigns
24 April, 2018
The world witnessed how Armenia, Georgia's neighbor country, united around one aim managed to peacefully bring a change by struggling with patience for more than a week in the center of Yerevan. The peaceful protest and ultimate resignation of the Prime Minister has been one of the main themes of world’s leading international media.Armenia’s veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan resigned on Monday after mass protests against his election as prime minister. Opposition supporters accused Mr Sargsyan, who was made prime minister
last week after serving 10 years as president, of clinging to power. Last week lawmakers voted for Sargsyan as prime minister after he served a decade as Armenia’s president.

"Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong," he said. "The situation has several solutions, but I will not take any of them... I am leaving office of the country's leader, of prime minister," reads former PM's last statement.

Watch the video of Armenians celebrating PM's resignation below

The opposition said the move was designed to extend his chokehold on power under a new parliamentary system of government, with tens of thousands taking to the streets of the capital Yerevan and other cities in recent days in largely peaceful protests.
Peaceful protest in Armenia

Sargsyan quit after a number of serving and former soldiers joined the protests. His resignation came as a major surprise, with analysts saying just last week that the opposition did not have enough resources to force the veteran leader to quit.
Masked police have been holding back the crowds

“Our velvet revolution has won but this is only the first step,” protest leader Nikol Pashinian told supporters at the rally in Yerevan’s Republic Square.
Serzh Sargsyan's face is scored out on a poster

“Our revolution cannot stop halfway and I am hoping that you will persevere until the final victory.”

The 42-year-old leader of the Civil Contract party said he would meet with the acting head of government, Karen Karapetian, on Wednesday to discuss the transfer of power.
Scuffles broke out between police and protesters on Sunday

Pashinian — who was hurt in the protests last week and sported a bandaged hand — said parliament would have to elect a new prime minister “within a week” and new parliamentary elections were also in the cards.
Serzh Sargsyan met with the opposition politician Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan on Sunday.
Photo: Credit Vano Shlamov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Earlier in the day the 63-year-old Sargsyan — who previously refused to step down — stunned the country by saying he was in the wrong and resigning.

“I am leaving the post of the country’s leader,” Sargsyan was quoted as saying by his office. “Nikol Pashinian was right,” he said. “I was wrong.”
A picture from the demonstration

Sargsyan implied that there were several ways to resolve the crisis and that he could have used force to break up protests but chose not to. “This is not in my nature,” he added.
Massive celebration in Armenia after Prime Minister resigned. Photo courtesy RFE/RL

Armenians cheered Sargsyan’s departure, dancing, hugging each other and setting off fireworks. “The people won!” shouted supporters of Pashinian as some waved national flags and others tooted car horns, on the 11th day of demonstrations.

Spontaneous street parties broke out as many flocked to stores to buy wine and raise a toast to the country’s future.

Armenian protesters celebrate victory in the streets of Yerevan

Sargsyan remained the country’s top leader even after he transitioned to the post of prime minister following constitutional amendments approved in 2015, which transferred powers from the presidency to the premiership.

Sargsyan, a former military officer, was first elected president of the poor, landlocked nation in 2008. He also held the office of prime minister from 2007 to 2008.

After the 2008 presidential vote, 10 people died in clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.
Still from the demonstration. Credit Karen Minasyan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Kremlin said it was closely watching the political crisis in Armenia — which hosts a Russian military base — but would not interfere.

Protesters said Sargsyan’s peaceful departure after a decade in power was unprecedented. “For the first time ever the people forced the head of state to resign,” said 46-year-old Arman Sarkisian.

“This has never happened before. From now on those who will replace him will think twice before taking decisions.”
According to the participants of the demonstrations, new life begins for them. Photo courtesy RFE/RL

Sargsyan, 63, was a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov — who spoke to reporters before Sargsyan resigned — said Russia was carefully watching events in Armenia.
Armenians have poured into Yerevan’s main square to celebrate the resignation of Prime Minister. Photo courtesy RFE/RL

Last week Putin called Sargsyan to congratulate him on his election as prime minister despite the rallies.

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Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigns