Armenia opposition chief urges new protests, strike

Armenian opposition leader announces 'velvet revolution' amid protests

In Yerevan there were clashes between students and police

Parliament is expected to elect ex-president Serzh Sarkisian as prime minister under a new parliamentary system of government that will allow the 63-year-old to maintain his chokehold on the country. The new system sees the president's powers weakened and the prime minister taking a dominant role.

Armenia's police reiterated that "law enforcement bodies can terminate the meeting if they consider that it is otherwise impossible to prevent a disproportionate restriction of the constitutional rights of other persons or public interests", and called on protesters to "stop blocking streets and ensure the normal course of the rally".

Holding Armenian flags and chanting "Armenia without Serzh!" protesters filled Yerevan's main square after lawmakers backed the candidacy of the Kremlin-supported veteran politician with 77 to 17 votes.

He described Monday's demonstrations as a "turning point for the country".

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinian has called on supporters to wage a campaign of "total disobedience".

But many Armenians see the system change as a scheme created to allow Sargsyan - who has become increasingly unpopular during his time in office - to maintain his grip on power.

Authorities said 46 people, including six policemen, sought medical help.

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On Monday, dozens were injured in scuffles with police and around 80 protesters were arrested, police said.

For a time, the tactic worked and thousands of protesters were able to easily pass through police cordons.

Opposition activists also held rallies in recent weeks to protest Sarksyan's campaign to become prime minister and thousands blocked the centre of the capital Yerevan.

But Pashinian vowed to continue with the protests.

A shrewd former military officer, Sarkisian has been in charge of the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million since winning a presidential vote in 2008.

Rallies began on Friday when more than 4,000 people took part.

Sargsyan served as Armenia's president from 2008 until stepping down because of term limits.

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