“The people’s voices” prevail: Sri Lanka’s prime ministerial crisis to be put to a parliamentary vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

“The people’s voices” prevail: Sri Lanka’s prime ministerial crisis to be put to a parliamentary vote

The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Image from Flickr by Kolitha de Silva. CC BY 2.0

Since October 26, when Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena ousted Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country’s prime minister, and replaced him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the ensuing political crisis has many in the country analyzing the constitutional legitimacy of appointing a prime minister without wider consent. The president also suspended the country’s parliament for three weeks and dissolved the cabinet of ministers.

On October 30 and 31, in response to the questionable legitimacy of Wickremesinghe’s removal and the temporary suspension of Parliament, thousands took to the streets of Colombo to demand that Parliament be reconvened in order to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

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Azzam Ameen

@AzzamAmeen

Massive Demonstration in Colombo demanding President Sirisena to convene Parliament “The people have spoken. Summon Parliament. Restore democracy now” says @

Harsha de Silva

@HarshadeSilvaMP

Thank you! Tens of thousands of people thronged the entrance to Temple Trees. They were orderly, not drunk and didnt climb lamp posts. They came only to demand that parliament be summoned and dislodge . Huge success. @MaithripalaS don’t trample democracy. @RW_UNP

Vikalpa

@vikalpavoices

Live updates from the people’s protest at the Liberty Plaza roundabout calling for the re-convening of Parliament

In a news conference, Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya urged the president to let Wickremesinghe prove his majority support on the parliament floor, and warned of a bloodbath if the impasse continues.

Nusky Mukthar@NuskyMukthar

Diplomats from UN, EU, UK, Canada & Germany met the Speaker today and urged to convene the parliament and to ensure democracy is protected

Pressure from protests to reconvene Parliament have borne fruit, as Sirisena has scheduled a parliamentary vote to decide who is the lawful prime minister on November 7.

A dysfunctional coalition

The events of the past few days have stoked fears among some Sri Lankans of a return to the period of Mahinda Rajapaska’s presidency, when sectarian violence, state-sponsored repression and censorship were rife. As a group of students has noted in a statement on the matter published by GroundViews:

The resort to violence and coercion is a chilling reminder of what dictatorship looks like. The coup is being followed by a return to the norms of self-censorship, violence, and fear that were characteristic of Rajapaksa-era politics. State media institutions were stormed in the night and security for the Prime Minister and Ministers  arbitrarily withdrawn. Moreover, many private media stations are already becoming vehicles for misinforming the public and spreading disinformation.

Sirisena told reporters that he removed Wickremesinghe after discovering that the latter was involved in an assassination plot against him. But it is believed that the current situation is, in fact, a by-product of the existing power struggle between Sirisena, Wickremesinghe, and Rajapaksa.

In January 2015, then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa called for a presidential election in a bid to consolidate his power and to seek a third term in office. Sirisena, a former minister in Rajapaksa’s government, defected from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and was nominated as a candidate by the Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP) to contest the presidency against the incumbent. Sirisena emerged the surprising winner—securing 51.28% votes against Rajapaksa’s 47.28%—and took over as the new president of Sri Lanka.

After the election, Rajapaksa handed over leadership of the SLFP party to Sirisena in accordance with the party’s constitution, which states that any member who is President is automatically leader of the party. During the parliamentary elections in August 2015, Siresena’s and Rajapaksa’s factions joined forces to contest the election under the banner of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Wickremesinghe’s UNP-led coalition, however, won 106 seats out of 225, with the UFPA winning 95—55 by the pro-Rajapaksa faction, and 40 by the pro-Sirisena faction.

After the parliamentary elections, Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe prime minister and created a National Government after signing a memorandum of understanding in order to address issues which were not resolved after the end of the 30-year ethnic conflict. Since then, the Rajapaksa-led SLFP faction has been the de-facto opposition party.

Over the past two years, however, Rajapaksa has been gaining significant ground, and his party swept the local elections in February 2018. In April 2018, Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament brought by supporters of Rajapaksa, a move clearly meant to weaken the already unstable ruling coalition.

The growing popularity of Rajapaksa’s SLFP party and existing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over the latter’s leaning towards India as a geopolitical partner instead of China, may be one of the many reasons that Sirisena has chosen to appoint Rajapaksa as prime minister.

“The people’s voices have been heard. . . ” Wickremesinghe stated optimistically on Twitter on November 1, after it was learnt that parliament would be reconvened next week. “Democracy will prevail.”

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND FROM BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle

Tuesday, 30 October, 2018 – 12:00
In an essay he wrote on his Facebook page five months ago, Adel Abdul Mahdi said he wouldn’t want to be Iraq’s next prime minister. The country’s toxic political culture would make it impossible to govern, he claimed. “Assuming I got accepted now, I will soon lose,” he wrote. “I will face majorities which will not allow their groups to provide necessary support.”

Now that Abdul Mahdi is prime minister, he’s discovering just how right he was. The question is whether he will seek to do anything about it.

On Thursday, after weeks of bickering, parliament finally confirmed Abdul Mahdi, and 14 of the 22 people he named to his cabinet. There was no vote on a number of key appointments, including ministers of defense and the interior. Nearly a third of the 329 members of parliament didn’t even bother to turn up, and those who did complained they weren’t given enough time to properly consider the nominations. Abdul Mahdi didn’t help matters by handing out one-sheet resumes of each of his nominees.

It was an inauspicious start to his premiership, but the messy process of cabinet formation was entirely consistent with his May prophecy. The political groups he warned about — a half-dozen factions whose backing he needed for his confirmation — jockeyed ferociously for control of key ministries, leaving Abdul Mahdi unable to deliver on his promise of a cabinet of “technocrats.” His picks to run the oil and electricity ministries may fit that description, but in other positions it seems clear that Abdul Mahdi’s choices were forced on him. None of the nominations came from an online application process he announced earlier this month, designed to attract fresh talent to government. Worryingly, his nominee for the powerful interior ministry is Falih al-Fayadh, who ran the Iran-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces militias. (The vote on his nomination, and at least some of the others, is expected on Nov. 6.)

The difficulty Abdul Mahdi has already had with the cabinet-formation process bodes ill for the other challenges that lie ahead. Among those he prophesied in the May essay: resistance by political parties to the institutionalization of government departments, to ending rentierism in the economy, to the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive, to the dismantling of politically affiliated militias, and to transparency in security agreements with other nations, including Iran.

Those would be formidable challenges for any government; they seem insurmountable for one where the ministers are all, like Abdul Mahdi himself, political lightweights, lacking both mass appeal and parliamentary clout. This allows little optimism for reform at the ministerial level, where bureaucracies have long been packed with political appointees who answer to parties rather than to the state. The tradition of parties interfering in the day-to-day functioning of ministries is unlikely to change. As Abdul Madhi wrote in May, “There are large numbers of people who are used to considering this interference a right and not an [encroachment].” It is hard to imagine any of the new ministers cleaning house.

Problem is, while Abdul Mahdi showed himself an astute analyst of the country’s problems, his own track record is uninspiring. As oil minister from 2014-16, he did little to curb the influence of apparatchiks from his own party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who “treated it as their fiefdom, like any party would and did in any ministry,” says Ruba Husari, managing director of OZME Consultants, which provides consulting on Iraq’s oil and gas sector. Abdul Mahdi proved to be a poor administrator. “He was not a manager, not someone who had any sense of the details of his ministry,” says Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at the London School of Economic’s Middle East Center.

Sometimes being a compromise candidate can be an asset. Abdul Mahdi may be weak, but at least he now has a bully pulpit and a job that, in theory, few others want. Given his grasp of Iraq’s problems, it’s tempting to conclude he’s not trying very hard to tackle them. Maybe, despite his protests, he wanted the job a little too much.

(Bloomberg)

Netanyahu defends freezing Western Wall deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Blaming ‘ultra-Orthodox street,’ Netanyahu defends freezing Western Wall deal

PM tells US Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv that spats over the site and conversion can easily be overcome and that he’s worried more by the loss of Jewish identity in the Diaspora

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish federation's annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish federation’s annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Addressing North American Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his controversial freezing of a compromise deal to expand the pluralistic prayer platform at the Western Wall, blaming pressure from the “ultra-Orthodox street,” and arguing that religion and state issues in Israel have always been settled with “ad hoc compromises” and “slowly evolving arrangements.”

While the agreement — made in January 2016 and suspended a year and a half later — will not be fully implemented, he vowed that a new “refurbished” prayer platform will open very soon.

Dismissing the discussion over the wall and other contentious matters, such as conversion, as issues that can easily be “overcome,” Netanyahu said the biggest problem facing world Jewry today was the loss of Jewish identity, and that the development of Jewish consciousness and pride in the minds of young Jews was the Diaspora’s most important mission.

Asked about Diaspora Jews’ concerns regarding the lack of religious pluralism in Israel, Netanyahu replied by noting that even the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had failed to bridge the gap between the secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority, without which he was unable to form a government.

“These are two conflicting principles — you can’t resolve it with a unifying principle. You resolve it by a series of ad hoc compromises, and they evolve over time,” Netanyahu said at the closing plenary of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly.

“From time to time, the status quo is challenged. It evolves in step-functions. By the way, most of human progress until recently has been step functions. You sort of settle on a status-quo and it goes up to a certain point, and then it changes,” he continued.

On the matter of who would be authorized to perform conversions to Judaism, Netanyahu said that during his first term as prime minister he had found a good compromise with the Yaakov Ne’eman Commission, which survived for 20 years before it was challenged. The current government then commissioned a report by Moshe Nissim, which Netanyahu said was a “good compromise,” but added that he is currently unable to pass it. “It depends on the political realities,” he said.

Turning to the Western Wall, he recounted negotiating a compromise deal calling for a pluralistic prayer platform at the holy site that would be “accessible in an uplifting way” to everyone. That blueprint included the creation of a joint entrance to all three prayer areas — the pluralistic one and the two gender-separated sections to be used by Orthodox worshipers.

“We had technical drawings, the whole thing. Part of that [agreement] had explanatory notes, when I brought it to the government, which would imply an indirect recognition in Israel of the Conservative and Reform streams,” Netanyahu said. “And that was okay. People agreed. Then it was challenged, immediately, by the ultra-Orthodox street, and they basically said, you know, ‘Choose: You have a government, no government.’”

Netanyahu also said that members of the opposition may attack him for caving to the pressure, but that he has proof that they had themselves had made offers to the ultra-Orthodox parties “that exceed the ones given by Likud.”

Rather than canceling the agreement, he merely suspended it, Netanyahu said. “Keep it there. Don’t cancel it. But move with what the agreement actually says you do, which is refurbish the plaza.”

Netanyahu noted that work started on Tuesday to put back the boulder that fell out of the wall on to the egalitarian platform in July.

“This should speed up the conclusion and I expect the plaza to be completed [soon],” he said. “We finished nearly all the regulatory work, which was just impossible, but we’re getting there. That plaza will be there, refurbished, new, safe, very beautiful.”

Israel is and will remain the home of all Jews, the prime minister went on, to applause from the audience. “I don’t care whether they’re Conservative or Reform or Orthodox, and I don’t care if they’re completely secular or non-believing.”

The egalitarian prayer platform at the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch archaeological area. (Eilat Mazar)

The balance between religion and state in Israel is different from the system that exists in the US or elsewhere, he went on, “But it is what it is here. This is what we have: a series of slowly evolving arrangements.” Ultimately, those arrangements reflect the “evolution of the Israeli electorate,” he said.

Toward the end of his appearance, as his host, outgoing JFNA chair Richard Sandler, was about to bid the prime minister farewell, Netanyahu asked to make another point, stressing what he said really worries about him about Diaspora Jewry.

“What I’m concerned with when it comes to the Jewish people is one thing, and that’s the loss of identity. It’s not the question of the Wall or conversion; we’ll overcome that. It’s the loss of identity,” he said.

Paraphrasing an article by Ammiel Hirsch, Netanyahu said that those who are not concerned with Jewish survival will not survive as Jews.

“There is some basic truth to that,” he said. “Jewish survival is guaranteed in the Jewish state, if we defend our state. But we have to also work at the continuity of Jewish communities in the world by developing Jewish education, the study of Hebrew, having the contact of young Jews coming to Israel.”

What is needed is a new approach, suitable for the internet age, that will help Diaspora Jews “understand that their own future as Jews depends on continuous identity,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s protecting Jewish identity and developing Jewish consciousness that is the most important thing. It transcends politics; it touches on the foundations of history,” he concluded. “We’re one people. Let’s make sure that every Jewish child in the world knows how proud they should be to be Jews.”

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Tunisia Ruling Party Suspends Prime Minister’s Membership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Tunisia Ruling Party Suspends Prime Minister’s Membership

Sunday, 16 September, 2018 – 11:00
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed talks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Tunisia – Almunji Suaidani
Tunisia’s ruling Nidaa Tounes party froze the prime minister’s membership.

“The party decided to freeze the membership of Chahed,” Nidaa Tounes said in a statement.

Following long discussions that lasted for hours on Friday, the party took that decision that might lead in a further phase to a temporary dismissal of Chahed. During his visit to one of the schools in the north of the capital, Chahed refused to comment.

Wafa Makhlouf, a founding member of Nidaa Tounes, expressed objection and other members’ rejection of the statement content – a stance that shows affection with the prime minister who aspires to play a key political role bigger than the one determined for him when he was first appointed a prime minister.

Makhlouf expressed concern regarding the current condition in the country.

A former leader in Nidaa Tounes Riad Alaziz expected the number of deputies from the National Coalition bloc to reach 55, and all of them would be supporting the political program of Chahed. This makes the bloc come second after Ennahda Movement and push Nidaa Tounes to the third place.

This parliamentary bloc works on ensuring positive outcomes of Chahed government during the upcoming voting over the financial law 2019, also through voting in favor of Chahed carrying out a partial amendment in the government, as well as conducting huge reforms and implementing a development program.

Israeli’s Are Destroying Israeli Democracy Themselves From The Inside

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

OP-EDWE’RE BEING BATTERED… FROM WITHIN

Israeli democracy isn’t broken, but it is under assault

Minorities are worried, their supporters are besmirched, key hierarchies are undermined, and our most hostile critics are empowered

David Horovitz
A man walks past a poster criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his residence in Jerusalem, as police investigators arrive to question him on corruption allegations, July 10, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A man walks past a poster criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his residence in Jerusalem, as police investigators arrive to question him on corruption allegations, July 10, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

There’s a purportedly reasonable explanation for everything.

The detention and questioning of Peter Beinart, when he flew into Israel earlier this week to attend his niece’s bat mitzva, was a mistake — a case of overzealous Shin Bet officers getting carried away. Just like the recent questioning at airports and border crossings of several other Israel-critics, whose challenges to government policy fall well within the parameters of legitimate free speech.

The predawn arrival of cops at the Haifa home of Conservative Rabbi Dov Haiyun, to take him to the police station for questioning one day last month, was another regrettable but atypical incident — in which police foolishly heeded instructions from some jumped-up nobody in the local rabbinate who had issues with Haiyun’s officiating at weddings.

The controversy over the candidacy of Yair Golan as the next chief of staff, who faces opposition because he has had the temerity to warn of dangerous trends in Israeli society and to assert that soldiers should be prepared to take risks in order to protect Palestinian civilians, is a minor fracas that is unlikely to affect the appointments process. He probably wasn’t going to get the job anyway.

The battle over who will helm Israel’s police is nothing to be too concerned about. Even though Roni Alsheich had made it known he wanted to stay on, and even though it doesn’t look terribly good for Benjamin Netanyahu to be replacing the law enforcement chief whose officers are investigating him in a welter of corruption allegations, the prime minister has every right and plenty of precedent not to extend Alsheich’s term for a fourth year.

The abrupt abrogation last year of the solemnly negotiated Israel-Diaspora agreement on pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall was an unfortunate consequence of Israeli realpolitik. The prime minister genuinely wanted to implement the deal, but believed he would no longer be prime minister if he did so, since his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners would bring him down.

The same goes for attempts to loosen the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate’s iron grip on life-cycle events — its monopoly on the formalities of how one gets born, converted to Judaism, married, divorced and dead in this country. And for efforts to resist ultra-Orthodox pressure for more stringent implementation of laws on Sabbath observance. And for the endlessly thwarted bid to conscript or enforce national service for young ultra-Orthodox Israelis: Unfortunately, all resistance is stymied by the coalition leverage of ultra-Orthodox MKs, an entirely legitimate function of our political system.

As for the prime minister’s zigzag on extending surrogacy rights to single-sex couples, here, too, he simply didn’t have the votes he needed.

The arithmetic was different for the nation-state law. If a phrase noting Israel’s commitment to full equality for all its citizens had not been excised from the text, support in the Knesset for the legislation, with its overdue definition of Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people,” would have been overwhelming. But the argument was made that provisions for equality are already enshrined in existing legislation, albeit without the actual word “equality,” and notwithstanding the fact that this is the law that defines the very nature of Israel.

The justice minister warned of an “earthquake” were the Supreme Court to dare to intervene and strike down the nation-state law. Plainly, such talk was out of line, but the justices, formidable and independent, are unlikely to be deterred — even though the composition of the Supreme Court is gradually changing as the self-same justice minister seeks appointees she thinks are not unsympathetic to her worldview.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Taken one at a time, ostensibly acceptable rationalizations can be found for all the crises and controversies I’ve listed. Taken together, the picture is bleak.

As those crises and controversies accumulate, the explanations stretch and strain but cannot cover the concern that what we’re witnessing is our democracy under assault from within.

There are attempts to intimidate the judiciary. The media is both demonized and compromised. Financial corruption goes untreated and seeps into politics

Israeli democracy isn’t broken. The attorney general will investigate the rash of border detentions. Haifa police likely won’t go round collaring too many non-Orthodox rabbis in the near future.

Crowds of Israelis will continue to demonstrate against the nation-state law, against alleged corruption in high places, against economic inequality, against the failure to legislate surrogacy rights for single-sex parent families, against religious coercion. Their concerns may even be heeded; they are guaranteed the opportunity to change their leadership if not.

But Israeli democracy is being battered. There are attempts to intimidate the judiciary. The media is both demonized and compromised. Financial corruption goes untreated and seeps into politics.

As a result of the abiding ultra-Orthodox monopoly, of the scrapping of the Western Wall deal, and of the government’s evident indifference or worse to the concerns of non-Orthodox religious Jews, millions at home and abroad feel alienated from the “national home of the Jewish people” that the government went to such lengths to declare.

As a result of that nation-state law, Israeli minorities worry about their status and their rights, and they and their supporters are besmirched for saying so. Backers of Israel overseas, who play an important role in defending the country against its legions of haters worldwide, find themselves baffled, defensive, even alienated; it gets harder to argue against allegations of discrimination when the Druze community, Israel’s own most loyal minority, is leveling the charge.

The prime minister’s rapid about-face on an agreement that he had rightly said represented the “best possible” resolution of the fate of tens of thousands of African migrants, because of mild pressure from a part of his voter base that would not tolerate providing residential status for fewer than 20,000 refuge-seekers, further undermines support and empowers detractors.

Key hierarchies are being undermined and corroded, as exemplified by Netanyahu’s allegations of police bias against him. People in positions of power are exercising it without due heed for essential rights and freedoms. Internalizing what is now expected, some, in organizations such as the Shin Bet and police force, are trending to the overzealousness epitomized by the detention of the visiting journalist and the summons of the non-Orthodox rabbi.

Uniquely in the Middle East, we in Israel have enjoyed free speech, freedom of religion, a free press, equality before the law, an independent judiciary and more.

But in this Israeli summer of 2018, there’s a chill in the air. There’s a danger — and it’s not only from Damascus and Tehran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Israelis from the Druze community participate in a rally against Israel’s Jewish nation-state law, in Tel Aviv, August 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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India Bids Farewell To Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated in Delhi, nation bids farewell to poet prime minister

The last rites for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattarcharya at Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna with full state honours on Friday evening.

INDIA Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:25 IST

Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Vajpayee funeral,Vajpayee cremation
Namita Kaul Bhattacharya, daughter of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and her daughter Niharika, family members and political leaders at the cremation of the former Prime Minister at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday.(Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was laid to rest, with full state honours, in a ceremony marked by emotion and ritual, preceded by a public procession through the heart of Delhi which was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday afternoon.

Namita Bhattacharya, Vajpayee’s foster daughter, lit the pyre, amid tears, as South Asia and India’s tallest political leaders grieved in silence, paying their tribute to the three-time former PM and an icon of modern India.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, PM Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former PM Manmohan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leader and one of Vajpayee’s oldest political colleagues, LK Advani, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat were among those present at the funeral.

Leaders from across South Asia were also present to bid farewell to Vajpayee, who had deep relationships with leaders in the region and had invested time and energy in improving relations with countries in the neighbourhood during his time as PM. Bhutan’s monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali, Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, and Sri Lanka’s acting foreign minister Laxman Kiriella travelled to Delhi to pay their tributes on the occasion.

Vajpayee died on Thursday evening, after a prolonged period of illness. He had been inactive since a stroke in 2009. In June, he was admitted to the All India Institute for Medical Sciences with a kidney and urinary tract infection. His condition deteriorated over the last three days.

The former PM’s death led to an outpouring of condolence messages from across the political spectrum. The cabinet declared a seven-day state mourning and a state funeral at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

On Friday morning, Vajpayee’s body was first brought from his residence on Krishna Menon Marg to the new Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters on the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. Vajpayee was the founding president of the BJP in 1980, and played a critical role in bringing the BJP to power at the Centre. He however, never got a chance to visit the new headquarters.

PM Modi and Shah were waiting at the office, where they paid their respects to the later former PM. So did a range of cabinet ministers, chief ministers, BJP functionaries, opposition leaders, including former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja. Party workers had begun pouring in to office since 7 am.

In the afternoon, Vajpayee’s body was then taken to Smriti Sthal.

Leading thousands of workers, supporters, and those in mourning, Modi walked from the party HQ to the site, six kms away. It was a rare sight, for the PM, accompanied senior members of his cabinet, and Shah to march through the crowded streets of central Delhi, surrounded by visibly nervous security men.

Officials realised that Modi would walk with the procession only when he did not get into his car. An official of the Delhi Police, who asked not to be named, said they got a message from the Special Protection Group about Modi’s decision mere minutes before the procession left the BJP headquarters.

Modi subsequently tweeted, “People came from all parts of India, from all sections of society to pay tributes to an extraordinary personality who made an extraordinary contribution to the nation. India salutes you Atal Ji!” He added, “You will live on in the hearts and minds of every Indian. No words can ever do justice to your rich contribution towards the making of our country.”

The PM’s decision, a functionary said, was both a reflection of his personal debt to Vajpayee, his attachment with the former PM, and a recognition of what he meant for the BJP.

In a blog on Friday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, credited Vajpayee with creating in an era dominated by the Nehruvian Congress, a political party that was an ideological alternative to the Congress, which disagreed on various issues with the Congress, which took the Congress head-on, which struggled for almost five decades and in the last two decades but eventually not only became an alternative to the Congress but overtook it. “Atalji ran a marathon,” Jaitley said. “He was a patient runner.”

But for him, LK Advani and others, Jaitley said, Indian democracy would have looked different – dominated by one party, one family with a lot of scattered smaller parties. “That did not happen. Atalji and his colleagues made the difference.”

At the Smriti Sthal, the cremation was accompanied with military honours, which included a gun salute by a 14-man army squad firing three volleys each. Six army drummers played the Dead March tune, with their instruments covered in black cloth, while six buglers sounded the Last Post and the Rouse.

The Army had, earlier, provided a gun carriage for the coffin, while six pall bearers of the rank of Major or lieutenant colonel or equivalent ranks, two each from the army, navy and the IAF bore the coffin, and a team of 24 military officers maintained round-the-clock vigil, in turns, over the mortal remains — eight each from the three services.

In keeping with the military honours, three service chiefs placed wreaths on the body of Vajpayee before leaders paid their floral tributes.

But as the ceremony ended, it was his foster family which returned to Vajpayee’s side in his final moment. The tricolour that was wrapped around Vajpayee’s body was removed and given to his foster granddaughter Niharika. His daughter Namita, son-in-law Ranjan and Niharika had taken care of the former PM as he was unwell over the past decade. Tales of his fondness and affection for his family abounded. And it was his daughter, who eventually performed the last rites, bringing an end to the life of one of country’s most remarkable men, as India grieved.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 23:24 IST

So: There Is A $3 Million Bounty Put On Your Child’s Head, Now What?

(I GOT THE IDEA FOR THIS ARTICLE FROM A ‘TIMES OF ISRAEL’ ARTICLE THAT WAS WRITTEN/PUBLISHED ON JULY 3rd, 2018. YET THE COMMENTARY ON THEIR ARTICLE IS FROM MY OWN THOUGHTS, OLDPOET56)

In Israel on July 2nd of 2018 the Knesset voted a new law into place that the Palestinian Government does not like. This law was voted into effect by a vote of 87 to 15. This law says that If the PA does not quit paying their people to kill Israeli citizens as well as others in Israel like tourists that the Israeli government will withhold the amount the PA pays to these murderers and their families from the yearly tax revenue Israel pays to the PA. The spokesman for the PA Mr. Nabil Rudeineh stated yesterday (July 3rd, 2018) that this new law crosses a “Red Line” and that it amounted to a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people.”

 

In 2017 the PA paid $198 Million to so called ‘Martyrs’ families and $160 Million to the ‘Palestinian Prisoner’s Club.’ This $358 Million is equal to about %7 of the PA’s total budget of $5.1 Billion. I would like for you to think about these numbers for a moment as quite honestly, they shocked me that they were so high. The following is a small breakdown of these larger numbers. A Palestinian prisoner who is serving a 20-30 year sentence for a terrorist crime receives $2,772 per month, for life, this breaks down to over $600.00 per week. Those serving a 3-5 year sentence receive $554.00 per month for life, this would equal a little over $125.00 per week. This moral sickness gets even worse, if the prisoner is married, has children, lives in Jerusalem, or holds an Israeli citizenship, they receive even more payments. Reality is that some Palestinian prisoners who have killed Israeli citizens will be paid about $2.8 Million in their lifetime. The PA government is a physical and moral disaster yet they are not quite has inept and as evil as Hamas who rules the Gaza Strip, that shows people just how horrible Hamas is at taking care of their own citizens. Think about it, last year the government of the PA paid out $358 Million to people who murdered Israeli citizens and visitors to Israel. What good could the PA government have done with that $358 Million? Could that money have built maybe 3 or 4 hospitals or maybe 20 medical clinics. How about if they had put that money into their electrical grid, paved more roads, improved sanitation or used to improve their food supply?

 

Think about this reality for a moment, if you were to decide to visit Israel on a business trip or as a tourist, you have a $2-3 Million dollar price on your head. If you visit Israel with your family and a Palestinian murderers your wife/husband, your 5 year old daughter or your 1 month old son they will receive more income from the PA government for those murders than they could ever make working in the West Bank or Gaza Strip in their whole lifetime. These payment numbers go even higher if a Palestinian is able to kill an Israeli soldier. Think what the payment would be if they were able to kill a member of the Knesset, or a member of the PM Cabinet? Better yet, I wonder what the price is that the PA government has put on the head of Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu or for the head of President Trump or one of his family members?

 

My response to the PA government is that they have already declared war on Israel and it is because it is they who crossed the Red Line of moral decency when they put a bounty on the head of every man, woman and child in Israel. Reality also is that the PA has declared war on every visitor of every country in the world. The PA is just like Hamas in the reality that as working governments they are totally worthless and that they both are more interested in murdering civilians than they are in building an infrastructure for their own people within their own borders. In Palestine there could have been a peaceful two State solution many years ago if the PA and Hamas had wanted it to be so. Instead they have chosen to commit, to train and to bankroll murderers. Now I ask you, just how in the hell do you have peace talks with people whose first goal in life is to murder you and your family or to pay someone to do it for them?

 

Israeli-Polish Holocaust law: Does It Defend Or Betray History?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Does the Israeli-Polish Holocaust law agreement defend truth or betray history?

Jerusalem feted Warsaw’s cancellation of law banning claims of Polish complicity in Holocaust, but eminent Israeli scholar says mundane realpolitik trumped historical verity

Raphael Ahren
People from all over the world participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 24, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

People from all over the world participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 24, 2017. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In October 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the World War II-era Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini for inspiring the Nazis to exterminate the Jews.

The story made international headlines, with world leaders and Holocaust historians denouncing Netanyahu’s allegation as utterly inaccurate. Eventually, the prime minister walked back his incendiary accusation, clarifying that it was the Nazis and not the Palestinians who were responsible for the Shoah.

Last week, the prime minister — the son of a historian and a self-declared history buff himself — once again waded into Holocaust-related controversy, though with much less international attention.

On Wednesday, he signed an agreement with Warsaw that ended the spat between the two countries over a controversial Polish law that criminalized accusing the Polish nation of being “responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.”

While Jerusalem feted the annulment of the law’s most problematic stipulations, a leading Israeli expert on the Shoah called a joint statement that accompanied the deal not only factually erroneous but also a “betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust,” motivated by mundane present-day political considerations.

The argument over the agreement highlights Netanyahu’s complicated role as the global standard-bearer of the Jewish people and the memory of the Shoah who at the same time needs to engage in realpolitik to promote Israel’s real-world interests.

Minutes after the Polish parliament passed legislation to remove the troubling passages, and President Anderzej Duda signed it into law, the Israeli and Polish governments issued a joint statement on the Holocaust and Poland’s role in it.

It declared that the term “Polish death camps” is “blatantly erroneous” and that the wartime Polish Government-in-Exile “attempted to stop this Nazi activity by trying to raise awareness among the Western allies to the systematic murder of the Polish Jews.”

The joint declaration, issued last Wednesday simultaneously by Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki, also rejected anti-Semitism and “anti-Polonism.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on June 27, 2018, to discuss Poland’s amended Holocaust Law. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Most controversially, it condemned “every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during…World War II” but noted “heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people.”

The highlighting of “numerous” instances of Poles rescuing Jews, while not quantifying the cases of Poles murdering Jews out of pure anti-Semitism, led critics of the deal to argue that Israel has in effect adopted Warsaw’s skewed narrative of the Holocaust.

“It’s a betrayal. It’s simply a betrayal,” Yehuda Bauer, a professor emeritus of history and Holocaust Studies at Hebrew University and an academic adviser to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, told The Times of Israel on Monday.

“It’s a betrayal of the memory of the Holocaust and the interest of the Jewish people. And the reason for it is entirely pragmatic: the diplomatic, political, and economic ties between the Israeli government and the government of Poland.”

While Israel managed to get Poland to annul the criminal sanctions, the controversial law still stipulates fines for individuals who accuse the “Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland” of having been complicit or co-complicit in the Holocaust, he noted.

Yehuda Bauer (Thonke/Ullstein bild via Getty Images/JTA)

“Therefore, the agreement between the two governments allows for the prosecution of people who say the truth,” Bauer said, also arguing that there is no doubt that the “vast majority of Poles were extremely anti-Semitic.”

Far more problematic, from Bauer’s point of view, is that the joint statement suggests that Polish authorities and the Polish people were not guilty of anything during World War II. “It’s as if the Germans alone perpetrated the Holocaust and did not have allies and assistants,” he said.

Poland was occupied by the Nazis, but the leaders of the Polish underground asked the London-based Polish government-in-exile not to express sympathy for the Jews as this would diminish its popularity, the Prague-born historian added.

“Certainly not all Poles, but a majority of Poles, either took Jewish property, or killed the Jews themselves, or handed them over to the Polish police — which cooperated with the Germans and which is not mentioned with one word in the joint statement — or delivered them straight to the Germans,” Bauer said.

“The joint statement doesn’t say the truth — that a great portion of the Polish people did this and a bold minority tried to rescue Jews — but the exact opposite,” he added.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks to six Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, February 26, 2018. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Bauer, 92, took particular umbrage with the statement acknowledging and condemning “every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles” during the war.

“We recognize ‘every single case’? That implies that there were single cases,” he fumed. “That’s a lie.”

Yad Vashem recognizes 6,863 Poles as Righteous Among the Nations, the highest number of any nation.

“Considering the harsh punishment that threatened rescuers, this is a most impressive number,” Yad Vashem writes on its website. “On the other hand, when evaluating the role of Poles in the rescue of Jews, one also has to take into consideration that Poland’s Jewish community was by far the largest in Europe and that only about 10% of its Jews survived.”

Between 30,000 and 35,000 Jews were saved with the help of Poles — around one percent of all of Polish Jewry, according to Yad Vashem.

The Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on Bauer’s criticism.

Yaakov Nagel, one of the two Netanyahu confidants who secretly negotiated the agreement with the Polish government, firmly rejected the veteran historian’s criticism.

“He apparently didn’t read the statement, or he was maybe insulted that we didn’t consult him,” Nagel told The Times of Israel in an interview. “If it wasn’t Yehuda Bauer, I would respond differently,” he added, suggesting that Bauer’s advanced age may cloud his judgment.

“Here is a country that prides itself with having passed a law that they say will restore national honor, and half a year later they cancel it with their tails between their legs,” he said.

Yaakov Nagel in March 2017 (Flash90)

“This is an great achievement for the State of Israel,” Nagel went on. “The criticism drives me crazy. We got an amazing accomplishment. We had a law that everyone said was terrible, and we got rid of it without giving them anything in return. There is nothing wrong with the statement.”

Not even one of Bauer’s arguments is correct, Nagel insisted. He argued that the Polish law, which is formally called The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation Act, has existed for decades, and that the recent additions — paragraphs 55a and 55b — were removed at Israel’s behest.

There were good Poles, and there were bad Poles. Period.

It is true that those who accuse Poland of complicity can still be fined, but even Israel has civil laws against defamation, Nagel argued.

“There were two problematic paragraphs in this law, and we managed to get rid of them entirely.”

A former national security adviser, Nagel said he was not an expert on the Holocaust, but that Yad Vashem’s chief historian Dina Porat confirmed that the joint statement was historically accurate.

According to a well-placed source, Porat was indeed involved in the secret negotiations with the Polish government but did not get to see the final draft of the statement. Yad Vashem, which issued a statement welcoming Warsaw’s annulment of the law’s controversial paragraphs, was disappointed about the wording of the joint statement, the source added.

Porat did not reply to several requests for comment. A spokesperson for Yad Vashem said the institution is currently reviewing the various documents and may publish a statement in the near future.

Holocaust survivors protesting Poland’s new bill on Holocaust rhetoric in front of the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv, February 8, 2018. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA)

Holocaust historians may have liked to add a sentence or two about the extent of Polish anti-Semitism and Polish guilt during the Holocaust, Nagel allowed. But Yad Vashem confirmed that “everything we wrote in the joint statement is historically accurate,” he insisted.

And what of Bauer’s complaint that the statement refers to “every single case” of Polish cruelty, making it seem as if these were isolated incidents?

“There is no sentence stronger” than the one in the joint statement, Nagel argued, saying “every single case” could refer to millions of incidents.

“There were good Poles, and there were bad Poles. Period. That’s history,” he said. No one has counted how many Poles saved Jews and how many killed Jews, he added.

The joint statement did not go into numbers since it proved impossible to get Warsaw to agree to a wording that would have portrayed the Polish nation in a more negative light, he indicated.

“You can’t have everything,” Nagel said. “There were some sentences we would have liked to add, but diplomatic negotiations are a give and take, and you don’t get everything you want.”

READ MORE:

Trump Is Tired Of World Leaders Calling Him Out For Being An Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ‘THE TELEGRAPH’)

 

Donald Trump ‘tired of Theresa May’s school mistress tone’ and will not hold talks with her at G7

It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada
It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada CREDIT: EPA/SHAWN THEW

Donald Trump has grown frustrated with Theresa May’s “school mistress” tone, allies of the president have told The Telegraph, as it emerged the pair will not hold formal talks at the G7 summit in Canada.

The US president is said to bristle at the Prime Minister’s approach during phone calls, with Mrs May quick to get into policy details rather than wider conversation.

One senior US diplomat said Mr Trump had expressed annoyance at Mrs May’s frequent demands, which are seen as taking advantage of the UK-US relationship.

Another long-time friend of the president revealed he had privately complained of how Mrs May calls him out in public when he is deemed to have stepped out of line.

A third figure, a former White House official who attended meetings between the pair, confirmed the frosty relationship: “No offence, but she is basically a school mistress. I’m not sure anyone gets on well with her.”

Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship
Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship CREDIT: NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX / EYEVINE

The comments made to this newspaper chime with a report in The Washington Post on Thursday that Mr Trump sees Mrs May as too politically correct after she rebuked him over claims that parts of London have become “no-go” areas.

Asked about Mr Trump’s reported view of her before the summit in Quebec, Mrs Mrs said: “I just get on and make sure that I’m delivering. That’s the job of any politician.”

World leaders will gather on Friday in Charlevoix, Quebec, for a meeting of the G7 that has been overshadowed by Mr Trump’s decision to hit allies with hefty steel tariffs.

On the agenda for the two-day summit will be economic growth, the future of employment, gender equality, climate change and world peace.

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit 
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit  CREDIT: AFP

However, the discussions risk being overshadowed by a growing rift between Mr Trump and leaders of countries traditionally closely aligned with America.

Mr Trump’s decision to put 25 per cent steel tariffs and 10 per cent aluminium tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union have infuriated allies, as has his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Government sources said Mr Trump was not expected to hold bi-lateral meetings with Mrs May during the trip.

The White House said in a briefing on Wednesday that Mr Trump would hold bilateral meetings with Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, the leaders of Canada and France.

Donald Trump dismisses reports of rift with Theresa May as ‘false rumour’

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However, there was no mention of Mrs May.

Gordon Brown was once infamously snubbed by Barack Obama when he turned down five requests for a bilateral meeting during a 2009 gathering of world leaders in New York.

The then-prime minister had to settle for what one aide would later call a “snatched conversation” with Mr Obama in a kitchen, causing acute embarrassment when it was later reported.

Mrs May and Mr Trump, who have very different backgrounds and characters, have struggled to develop a close political friendship over the last 18 months.

The Prime Minster became the first world leader hosted in Mr Trump’s White House in January 2017, where the pair were pictured holding hands, but officials admit they are now not especially close.

Conservative MPs call on Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account

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A state visit to Britain offered at that time is still yet to happen and they have clashed a number of times over Mr Trump’s tweets and policy stances.

Former aides of Mrs May have insisted that Mr Trump often expresses his love for Britain during phone calls and adopts a respectful tone. However, few claim their relationship is especially warm.

British officials hope rolling out the red carpet when Mr Trump visits Britain on July 13 for a working trip will help improve relations, with a round of golf and tea with the Queen expected to feature.

But Mrs May is not alone in failing to build a rapport with Mr Trump. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has a frosty relationship with the US president, who often swipes at her country’s trade policies.

Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim- ong-un
Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

And many Western leaders have done little to hide their anger at the US president’s decisions over Iran and tariffs, going public with their criticism in recent weeks.

The row over tariffs, which have seen those affected hit back with reciprocal moves, has led to one of the most troubled run-ups to a G7 meeting in years.

Mrs May said that while she has made clear to Mr Trump that the tariffs are “unjustified”, she urged the EU to ensure its response is “proportionate”.

She said: “I made my views clear of the steel and aluminium tariffs. We disagree with these, we think they are unjustified. Obviously the EU will be responding.

“We will be working with others in the EU to ensure that response is proportionate, that it is within WTO rules. I will continue to put the argument for the importance of those trade relationships around the World.”

Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield 
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield  CREDIT: GETTY

Mr Macron, widely seen as having developed one of the warmest relationships with Mr Trump among world leaders, did little to hide his frustration before the gathering.

“You say the US President doesn’t care at all. Maybe, but nobody is forever,” Mr Macron said, appearing to cite the fact that Mr Trump will someday leave office.

Mr Macron also made reference to the joke that the G7 has become the ‘G6 plus one’, saying: “Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six, if needs be.

“Because these six represent values, represent an economic market, and more than anything, represent a real force at the international level today.”

Mr Trump referred to the trade row in a tweet on Thursday night, adding he was looking forward to seeing Mr Trudeau and Mr Macron.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

The US president is reportedly unhappy at having to attend the G7, coming on the eve of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

The US president fears being lectured to by other world leaders and would rather spend the time preparing for his talks with Kim, according to US media reports.

Armenia in political turmoil after Parliament fails to elect new prime minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Armenia in political turmoil after Parliament fails to elect new prime minister

Supporters of Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan attend a rally in downtown Yerevan on Tuesday.

(CNN)Armenia was thrown into political turmoil on Tuesday after Parliament failed to agree on a replacement prime minister for Serzh Sargsyan, who stepped down last week amid mass demonstrations.

Protest leader Nikol Pashinyan, 42, was the sole candidate in the parliamentary vote, but failed to get a majority backing.
Shortly after the vote, Pashinyan told thousands of supporters at a rally in the capital Yerevan that their struggle was far from over, and called for a strike the next day.
“Our counter-move against the action of the Republican faction will be very rapid. Tomorrow total strike is declared,” Pashinyan said, according to state-run Armenpress. “We block all the streets, communications, subway and the airports starting from 8:15. Our struggle cannot end in a failure.”
Nikol Pashinyan addresses supporters in downtown Yerevan.

Pashinyan needed 53 votes to be elected, but received 45, Armenpress reported. According to the news outlet, if Pashinyan is not elected in the second round, Parliament will be dissolved.
As the vote took place, thousands of Pashinyan’s supporters flooded into Yerevan’s Republic Square, watching the Parliament session on giant screens.
Many had hoped Pashinyan would fill the power vacuum left after Sargsyan resigned, following weeks of anti-government protests.
A Pashinyan supporter in Yerevan, ahead of the vote.

The European Union urged civility.
“It remains crucial that all parties involved, including the law enforcement agencies and those exercising their right of freedom of assembly and expression, avoid confrontation and show restraint and responsibility, as has been the case in recent days,” the EU said in statement on its website.
Pashinyan led the protests after Sargsyan was appointed Prime Minister on April 17. Sargsyan had previously served as Armenian president for 10 years, and the thousands of protesters who hit the streets of Yerevan saw his latest appointment as an unconstitutional power grab.
Under constitutional changes Sargsyan promoted in 2015, the prime minister became more powerful than the president, leading to concerns of authoritarian rule descending on the small former Soviet republic, which borders Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and Georgia.
As the protests entered their 11th day, Sargsyan stepped down as Prime Minister.
His deputy, Karen Karapetyan, was then named acting Prime Minister at an emergency Cabinet meeting.
Armenian policemen detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Yerevan on April 21.

Pashinyan, of the opposition Civil Contract party, cut a rebellious figure during the protests. His black cap, camouflage T-shirt and bandaged hand, reportedly injured on barbed wire, were in stark contrast to the suited Prime Minister Sargsyan.
televised meeting between the two leaders at the Marriott Hotel in Yerevan two weeks ago dramatically broke down when the Prime Minister walked out.
Shortly after, Pashinyan was arrested at an anti-government rally, but was released last Monday before the announcement that Sargsyan would resign.
Former Armenian Prime Minister  Serzh Sargsyan during the televised meeting with Nikol Pashinyan last month.

According to Laurence Broers, an associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank’s Russia and Eurasia program, discontent with Sargsyan had been brewing for years.
Armenians have seen their country, once the poster child for democratization after the collapse of the Soviet Union, stagnate in the hands of an entrenched oligarchy while many citizens choose to leave, Broers said.
Broers doesn’t ascribe sole credit to Pashinyan for the latest protests, but said the opposition figure “has been very successful in harnessing that desire and that energy for change.”
The crunch now, Broers said, is whether Pashinyan can turn his hand to coalition-building skills.