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Armenian Government ‘Ready’ For Talks On Snap Elections


ARMENIA -- Riot police confront opposition protesters demanding the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. in Yerevan, December 10, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his political team are ready to discuss with the Armenian opposition the possibility of holding fresh parliamentary elections, a senior pro-government lawmaker said on Thursday.

“I don’t rule out such a development,” deputy parliament speaker Alen Simonian told reporters. “The authorities are ready to discuss such a proposal.”

“The authorities are ready to start such discussions on the condition, as the prime minister noted, that no party threatens others,” he said.

Arman Babajanian, a nominally independent parliamentarian critical of opposition forces demanding Pashinian’s resignation, said his party has already held consultations on the issue with the ruling bloc.

“There was an invitation for such talks from the ruling team,” said Babajanian. “These discussions are continuing and we hope that they will be fruitful and result in decisions to schedule pre-term elections.”

Gevorg Gorgisian, a senior member of Bright Armenia (LHK), one of the two opposition parties represented in the parliament, said it has not received such offers from Pashinian or his political allies.

The LHK and virtually all other opposition groups began demanding Pashinian’s resignation and snap elections following a Russian-brokered ceasefire that locked in significant Armenian territorial losses suffered during the war. They insist that the polls must be held by a new, interim government in the coming months or within a year. Pashinian has rejected their demands.

“The current authorities do not have power anymore and cannot guarantee free and fair elections,” claimed Gorgisian.

The LHK is not part of a coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties holding street protests in a bid to force Pashinian to cede power to a caretaker prime minister nominated by them.

The coalition rallied several hundred supporters outside the main government building in Yerevan as Pashinian held a weekly session of his cabinet on Thursday.

Andranik Tevanian, one of the speakers at the rally, said: “Our main objective is to not allow this defeatist regime to hold elections because it is not legitimate and does not represent the people.”

Tevanian addressed the angry crowd before some protesters blocked an adjacent street in downtown Yerevan. Riot police used force to unblock the street, detaining more than 40 protesters in the process.

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