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Armenian PM suspends talks with opposition leader

April 22, 2018, 10:51 UTC+3

Serzh Sargsyan noted that a political force that "garnered 7-8% in the election, has no right to talk on behalf of the people"

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Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan (left) and opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan (right)

Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan (left) and opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan (right)

© Artem Geodakyan/TASS

YEREVAN, April 22. /TASS/. Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan walked out of talks with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on Sunday, a TASS correspondent reported.

The meeting was held at Marriott Armenia hotel on the central square of Yerevan - the Republic Square. Protesters gathered outside the building chanting slogans against Sargsyan.

"The political force, which garnered 7-8% in the election, has no right to talk on behalf of the people," Sargsyan said, noting that talking to him in this tone was unacceptable.

The Armenian prime minister called on the opposition leader to honor the law and left the meeting room. "What you offer is blackmail. You can’t blackmail the state," he said, leaving the hotel.

Pashinyan said: "You don’t understand the situation in the republic." At the meeting, the opposition leader said he would talk only about Sargsyan’s resignation.

Sunday’s talks were aimed at defusing tensions after the protests carried out by the opposition in the past days.

When heading to the talks, Pashinyan said the meeting would focus on the prime minister’s resignation and a peaceful transition of power.

The protesters voiced discontent at Sargsyan, who had been the president for 10 years, remained in power as the prime minister. They are demanding his resignation.

The agreement on talks between the authorities and the opposition was reached after a meeting between Armenia’s new President Armen Sarkissian and Pashinyan.

On Saturday, the prime minister called on Pashinyan to hold talks, but he rejected the offer and reiterated his demands. Dozens of political and public organizations in Armenia backed the premier and called for the use political tools to resolve the crisis in the country.

Mass rallies kicked off in Yerevan and other Armenian cities on Monday in the wake of former President Serzh Sargsyan’s nomination for the post of prime minister, despite the opposition’s protest. On Tuesday, the Armenian parliament elected Sargsyan as the prime minister. On Thursday, the opposition tried to disrupt the meeting of the new Cabinet, blocking the entrance to the government buildings and marching across Yerevan. Later, some 3,000 people took part in a rally.

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