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Pashinian Seeks Fresh Mandate In Yerevan Polls


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, 20 September 2018.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has urged Yerevan residents to vote overwhelmingly for his political team in Sunday’s municipal elections, saying that its landslide victory is critical for forcing snap parliamentary elections in Armenia.

The My Step alliance dominated by Pashinian’s Civil Contract party is widely expected to win a majority in the new city council that will fill the vacant post of Yerevan mayor. The margin of its victory remains an open question, though.

“I want to stress that by voting for the My Step alliance in these elections you will also vote for the dissolution of Armenia’s current National Assembly and the holding of pre-term parliamentary elections,” Pashinian told a campaign rally held in the city’s Arabkir district late on Thursday.

“I want to get your mandate to negotiate with the parliament, the parliamentary forces on the date and the venue of the pre-term parliamentary elections,” he said. “It is very important that you give me a strong mandate in the Yerevan council elections so that I go and solve that issue.”

Pashinian controls only a handful of seats in the current 105-member parliament that appointed him as prime minister in May after weeks of street protests that toppled Armenia’s previous government. Snap elections are therefore seen as crucial for his political future.

Under the Armenian constitution, they can be called only if the prime minister steps down and the parliament fails to choose his replacement.

Pashinian indicated that in his push for the parliament’s dissolution he will resort to the kind of popular pressure which he put on lawmakers when they first refused to elect him prime minister on May 2.The parliament majority reluctantly accepted his candidacy six days later, after renewed protests and road blockades paralyzed much of the country.

The Pashinian government’s policy program approved by the parliament in June says the general elections should be held by June 2019. Pashinian on Thursday again did not give possible election dates.

Some senior lawmakers from former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which has the largest parliamentary faction, have spoken out against the idea of fresh polls.

Leaders of other parliamentary forces, which are represented in the government, implicitly threatened this week to reconsider their support for such a vote after being harshly criticized by Pashinian during the Yerevan mayoral race. The premier on Wednesday warned them not to go “against the people.”

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