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Armenian Opposition Slams Government’s U-Turn On Elections


Armenia -- Edmon Marukian (L), the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party, talks to senior pro-government lawmakers on the parliament floor, Yerevan, January 18, 2021.

One of the two opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament on Monday denounced the authorities for seemingly abandoning plans to hold fresh parliamentary elections and said they will only radicalize their political foes and other critics.

Edmon Marukian, the leader of the Bright Armenia Party (LHK), warned of more public calls for a violent overthrow of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his government.

“Of course, this is not Bright Armenia’s [preferred] path,” he said. “But that accumulated [anti-government] energy will burst somewhere and the authorities will be primarily responsible for that.”

The LHK is not part of an alliance of 17 more radical opposition parties that launched anti-government protests immediately after the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 10. But it too demanded Pashinian’s resignation over his handling of the war.

Pashinian rejected the opposition demands but expressed readiness in late December to hold snap elections in the coming months. Opposition forces have since continued to insist that they must be held by a new and interim government.

In a weekend statement, Pashinian and his My Step bloc said they see no need for snap polls because of the opposition’s stance and what described as a lack of popular “demand” for the parliament’s dissolution.

“They have decided not to hold elections,” said Marukian. He claimed that Pashinian changed his mind after realizing that he cannot win reelection.

A senior member of Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the other parliamentary opposition force, insisted, for her part, that Pashinian was never serious about holding fresh elections.

“The conscious, thinking and patriotic part of the society concerned about the country’s future -- and they are a majority -- is demanding that Nikol Pashinian resign as soon as possible,” Naira Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“Nikol Pashinian cannot be one of the few leaders in world history who stayed in power after surrendering lands,” she said.

Lawmakers representing the ruling bloc insisted, meanwhile, most Armenians do not want regime change or pre-term elections.

“A vast part of the population is demanding that we do not opt for elections and keep doing our job instead,” one of them Hayk Konjorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“If the vast majority of our people wanted us to hold pre-term elections … then citizens would organize themselves without the 17 [opposition] forces or present their demand to us together with other political forces,” said Konjorian. He said they would specifically take to the streets.

The opposition alliance comprising the BHK and 16 other groups announced earlier on Monday that it will resume anti-government protests on February 20.

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