Pashinian: 'No vendetta' if he becomes Armenian premier

The Armenian-American singer Serj Tankian of System of a Down addresses the crowd gathered in Republic Square during a concert in Yerevan, Armenia, Monday, May 7, 2018. Opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian, who led weeks of protests that attracted tens of thousands of people and forced Serzh Sargsyan to resign as premier, is expected to be chosen as prime minister by parliament Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
The Armenian-American singer Serj Tankian of System of a Down, left, and opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian greet fans during a concert in Yerevan, Armenia, Monday, May 7, 2018. Nikol Pashinian, who led weeks of protests that attracted tens of thousands of people and forced Serzh Sargsyan to resign as premier, is expected to be chosen as prime minister by parliament Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
An elderly man passes outside an Armenian Orthodox church in the town of Idjevan, northern Armenia, Sunday, May 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
The Armenian-American singer Serj Tankian of System of a Down, right, and opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian greet fans during a concert in Yerevan, Armenia, Monday, May 7, 2018. Nikol Pashinian, who led weeks of protests that attracted tens of thousands of people and forced Serzh Sargsyan to resign as premier, is expected to be chosen as prime minister by parliament Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A policeman patrols at the monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, in Yerevan, Saturday, May 5, 2018. In a move to calm the turmoil that has gripped Armenia for weeks, the Republican Party said it would support any candidate for premier nominated by one-third of the lawmakers in parliament, support that Nikol Pashinian, the opposition lawmaker who led the protests, claims to have. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

YEREVAN, Armenia — The Armenian opposition leader who is nearly certain to become the country's prime minister said Monday he won't seek political revenge in the wake of the past month of tensions.

Nikol Pashinian, who led weeks of protests that attracted tens of thousands of people and forced Serzh Sargsyan to resign as premier, is expected to be chosen as prime minister by parliament Tuesday. That vote follows a concession in which the majority party said it would put forth a candidate itself, but would vote for whichever figure was nominated by a third of the deputies.

Pashinian told reporters that "There will not be a vendetta. In Armenia, the page of political and economic persecution has been closed."

In the evening, thousands of supporters gathered on the capital's central square, where Pashinian called on them to assemble outside parliament before the noon (0800 GMT) opening of the session that is expected to elect him.

A week ago, the parliament rejected his nomination. The next day, after demonstrators blocked roads and railways and the capital's international airport, the majority Republican Party made its concession.

Pashinian hasn't articulated a full political program, focusing on adamant opposition to the Republicans, and it isn't clear how effectively he will be able to lead the country while that party retains a majority in parliament.

On Monday, he sidestepped the issue of whether he would seek a snap election, saying there were "various factors" to consider.

The political turmoil began last month as Sargsyan prepared to transition from president to prime minister. He had been president for a decade, but was blocked by term limits from continuing in office.

But this year the government structure changed and the prime minister's position became more powerful than the presidency. Pashinian and others denounced the move as allowing Sargsyan to remain the country's leader indefinitely.

Sargsyan was named prime minister on April 17, but stepped down six days later in the face of large daily protests.

Pashinian has received wide approval from younger Armenians, along with shows of support from ethnic Armenians abroad. At the Monday evening rally, Pashinian appeared on stage with Serj Tankian, singer with the American heavy metal group System of a Down, all of whose members are ethnic Armenians.

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Jim Heintz in Moscow, and Yuras Karmanau in Yerevan, contributed to this story.

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