Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian pledged late on Tuesday to tender his resignation in an effort to force the conduct of snap parliamentary elections “in late November or early December.”
Rallying tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan, he also announced the sacking of six government ministers representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties accused by him of hampering the polls.
Pashinian organized the emergency rally immediately after lawmakers from the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun joined the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in passing a bill that would make it harder for him to have the current Armenian parliament dissolved.
Pashinian condemned the bill as a “conspiracy against the Armenian people” when he addressed the protesters blocking the entrances to the parliament building in central Yerevan. “We will have pre-term elections in late November or early December,” he declared before entering the building to negotiate with leaders of the parliamentary forces.
Under the Armenian constitution, snap elections can be called only if the prime minister resigns and the parliament fails to replace him or her by someone else within two weeks.
In his speech, Pashinian said that he will step down shortly after President Armen Sarkissian certifies the dismissal of the six ministers affiliated with the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun. “If it turns out that the people stand for pre-term elections then together with the people we will not allow the parliament to elect a new prime minister,” he said, adding that he will continue to perform his duties in the interim.
The premier again insisted that the current National Assembly “does not represent the Armenian people” and that he won a popular mandate to seek its dissolution in the September 23 municipal elections in Yerevan. His My Step bloc won over 80 percent of the vote.
Dashnaktsutyun said, meanwhile, that it itself is recalling its members, Agriculture Minister Artur Khachatrian and Economic Development Minister Artsvik Minasian, from Pashinian’s cabinet.
There was no immediate reaction to the latest developments from the BHK, the second largest parliamentary force led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian.