Opposition protesters block Armenia’s main airport

Opposition protesters block Armenia's main airport
The Associated Press

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Opposition protesters on Wednesday blocked the road leading from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, to its airport, as well as several subway stations and government ministries after their leader called for a national strike.

The actions Wednesday follow the parliament’s rejection of a bid by opposition leader Nikol Pashinian to become prime minister, and intensify the political turmoil that has gripped the country since mid-April.

Mass demonstrations forced Serzh Sargsyan to resign last week as prime minister just days after he was named to the post. Sargsyan was Armenia’s president for 10 years before stepping down due to term limits; he became prime minister amid a change in government structure that boosts the post’s powers, and opponents said the shift would allow him to remain the country’s leader indefinitely.

Because of the blockade of the road to Zvartnots Airport by about 300 young demonstrators and their cars, many travelers were forced to take long walks with their luggage to reach their flights.

Pashinian and about 3,000 of his supporters marched to the center of Yerevan.

“We won’t allow them to steal the victory of the people,” Pashinian told the marchers.

Although the vote against Pashinian in the parliament on Tuesday dashed the opposition’s hopes for a quick resolution of the tensions, there were no immediate signs that tempers would boil over into clashes. Pashinian insisted that the demonstrations would continue to be peaceful.

The parliament, where Sargsyan’s Republican Party has a majority of seats, is to hold another vote on naming a prime minister next Tuesday.

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