“I am not clinging to the post of prime minister, but I also cannot adopt a careless attitude towards power and the post of prime minister entrusted to me by the people,” Pashinian said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The fate of that post and the country’s further political leadership must be decided by the people through a free expression of their will and I … consider myself a guarantor of that free of expression of their will.
“I can give up the post of prime minister only if the people decide so,” he said. “Should the people reaffirm their trust I am also ready to continue leading the Republic of Armenia in these difficult times. There is only one way to answer these questions: the conduct of pre-term parliamentary elections.”
“Based on that, I am inviting parliamentary and interested extraparliamentary forces to consultations on holding pre-term parliamentary elections in 2021,” concluded Pashinian.
Virtually all Armenian opposition parties have blamed Pashinian for the Armenian side’s defeat in the recent war in Azerbaijan and demanded his resignation. Their demands have been backed by President Armen Sarkissian, the Armenian Apostolic Church and many public figures.
An opposition coalition uniting more than a dozen parties has been holding anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan and other parts of the country in a bid to force Pashinian to hand over power to an interim government. Its leaders maintain that only that government must hold the snap elections.
Citing what he described as a poor attendance of the continuing anti-government rallies, Pashinian said on Friday that the opposition campaign has not won popular support and is fizzling out.
The beleaguered prime minister earlier dismissed the protests as a revolt by the country’s traditional “elites” that lost their “privileges” after he swept to power in 2018.