ARMENIANS protesters shut down capital after rejection of their leader as the Prime Minister.

YEREVAN: Tens of thousands of Armenians converged on the capital on Wednesday, blocking key transport links and government buildings as-

Popular anger exploded over the ruling party's rejection of opposition leaders Nikol Pashinyan's bid to become the Prime Minister.

In an unprecedented show of defiance, protesters including elderly people, pupils and even housewives paralyzed traffic, and the subway and numerous stores shut.

The poor, Moscow-allied nation was plunged into its most serious political crisis in years last month when mass demonstrations led by Pashinyan forced the resignation and longtime leader Serzh Sarkisian.

Crowds of protesters across the city Wednesday waved national flags, blew vuvuzelas and shouted  ''Free, independent Armenia'', turning a new day of rallies into a street carnival.

Suburban train services were disrupted and the road linking Yerevan with its airport was blocked,  forcing travellers to drag their luggage on foot.

*Protesters said they would persist for as long as it takes to oust the ruling elites from power to rid the country of  poverty and corruption.

In parliament, lawmakers could not convene for a session due to the absence of a quorum, with the  Prosperous Armenia  party declaring a boycott over ''an emergency situation in the country.''

Lawmakers will try to elect a prime minister next Tuesday. If they fail again, the legislature will be dissolved and early elections called.

In Gyumri - which hosts a Russian military base - and the smaller town of Maralik, demonstrators into the mayor's office, demanding the local authorities join the protest movement.

Acting head of the government Karen Karapetyan urged talks to end the crisis.

''A prime minister should only be elected in parliament according to the constitution,'' he said. [Reuters]


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