Thousands of opposition supporters rally in Armenian capital

Yelk Party Nikol Pashinyan speaks during a protest organized by'My Step and'#merjirserjin initiatives at Liberty Square in Yerevan on Friday

The incident comes amid protests against a recent change of government that the opposition sees as a move for ex-President Serzh Sargsyan to stay in power.

Sarkisian, 63, ended his second and final presidential term last week. Unlike previous post-Soviet presidents in Armenia, Armen Sarkisian was elected by parliament instead of by popular vote.

The protesters were encouraged to act by Armenian MP Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the opposition Civil Contract party.

Pashinyan on Sunday had called on people to block Yerevan's bridges, streets, and subway on Monday.

Authorities beefed up police presence and put in place cordons which some protesters broke through.

Earlier this week, two opposition lawmakers set off smoke flares in parliament to protest plans for Serzh Sarkisian to become prime minister.

"Such actions can lead to crimes against the citizens' life, health and property", police said in a statement. He will operate under a new political system that sees the president's powers weakened and the prime minister taking a dominant role.

Tensions in Armenia often flare up during presidential and parliamentary elections.



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