YEREVAN (RFE/RL) – Thousands of jubilant Armenians have poured into Yerevan’s main square to celebrate the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, who stepped down amid widespread street protests over his election to the newly powerful post following 10 years as president.
In a dramatic turn of events a day after he had rejected opposition demands for his resignation, Sargsyan made a pointed and direct statement to the country on April 23, saying that he was acquiescing to calls from protest leader Nikol Pashinyan and the demonstrators the opposition lawmaker has led for 11 days and leaving office.
“The movement of the street is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand,” Sargsyan said in a statement on the prime minister’s website.
“Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong,” he said, adding a suggestion that he did not want to resort to force to stay in office.
“In the current situation there are several solutions, but I won’t choose any of them,” he said. “It’s not my style. I am quitting the country’s leadership and the post of prime minister of Armenia.”
Sargsyan was elected prime minister by parliament on April 17, eight days after his two-term presidency ended. His handpicked successor, Armen Sarkisian — who is not related, was sworn in as president on April 9 after being elected by parliament.