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Armenian Protest Leader Urges General Strike

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan urged his supporters to launch a campaign of civil disobedience and block key transport links including an airport after he failed in his bid to get elected prime minister.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday urged his supporters to launch a campaign of civil disobedience and block key transport links including an airport after he failed in his bid to get elected prime minister.

“From 8:15 am tomorrow all roads should be blocked, I announce a general strike,” Pashinyan told tens of thousands of ¬†supporters gathered in the capital Yerevan’s Republic Square.

“A revolution of love and tolerance is continuing,” he said, also urging people to turn out for a huge rally Wednesday evening as the crowds chanted “Nikol! Nikol!”

Protesters pledged to ramp up pressure on the authorities to force the ruling Republican Party to quit power.

“The entire country is united in its demand that the Republicans’ rule must end,” said Laura Shahverdyan, a 22-year-old student.

Anait Tolmasyan, a 63-year-old pensioner, added:¬†“We all only have one demand: the Republicans must go. Nikol is the true leader of the Armenian people.”

Earlier Tuesday Pashinyan failed in his bid to become prime minister after the ruling Republican Party withheld its support in a crucial vote, raising fears of worsening political turmoil.

Lawmakers voted 45 in favour to 55 against Pashinyan, with the Republicans rejecting his candidacy after hours of deliberations during a day-long extraordinary parliament session.

The small South Caucasus country has been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past few weeks.

Pashinyan, who spearheaded the mass protests that led to the resignation of the veteran leader Sezh Sargsyan last month, has insisted that only he can rid the poor ex-Soviet nation of corruption and poverty and conduct free and fair elections.

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