Armenia in political turmoil after protest leader's bid for power is blocked

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 the ruling party blocked a bid by the leader of the country's burgeoning protest movement to become prime minister.

Nikol Pashinyan, 42, the sole candidate in the parliamentary vote, called for a nationwide day of protest on Wednesday after losing the vote.
Mass demonstrations led by Pashinyan's movement forced the resignation of veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan last week. But Pashinyan's bid to lead the country was thwarted by the Republican party in parliament, which holds a majority in parliament and, after hours of bad-tempered debate, refused to back him.
    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.
      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.