UN urges respect for rights in Armenia after leader resigns

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for restraint and the continued respect of democratic rights in Armenia after mass street protests led to the resignation of long-serving leader Serzh Sarkisian.

Sarkisian, who served as president for a decade, was last week elected as prime minister with sweeping powers, triggering the protests.

"Consistent with the overall peaceful nature of the events thus far, the secretary-general encourages all relevant actors to continue to exercise restraint, avoid inflammatory rhetoric and engage meaningfully through an open and constructive dialogue," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres "calls for the continued respect of democratic rights and the rule of law, as well as for the maintenance of peace and stability in Armenia and the wider region."

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital Yerevan in recent days. A number of serving and former soldiers had joined the protests.

The Kremlin said it was closely watching the political crisis in Armenia -- which hosts a Russian military base -- but would not interfere.