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Ruling Bloc ‘Still Open To Discussing Elections With Opposition’


Armenia -- Deputies from the ruling My Step bloc attend a session of the Armenian parliament, Yerevan, January 22, 2021.

Armenia’s political leadership may again consider holding fresh parliamentary elections if the idea is backed by the parliamentary opposition, pro-government lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian offered to hold such elections on December 25 in response to anti-government protests sparked by the outcome of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian opposition dismissed the proposal, insisting on its demands for his resignation and the formation of an interim government.

The ruling My Step bloc pointed to the opposition stance when it stated on Sunday that Pashinian and his allies see no need to dissolve the current parliament. It also claimed that most Armenians do not want snap elections.

Opposition leaders scoffed at the statement, saying Pashinian has simply realized that he stands no chance of winning the vote.

“Let them not blame the parliamentary opposition for not holding pre-term elections or attribute that to [a lack of] ‘public demand,’” said Iveta Tonoyan of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), which has the second largest group in the National Assembly.

Arman Boshian, a lawmaker representing My Step, said, meanwhile, that the conduct of snap polls will be back on the government agenda if the BHK or the other parliamentary opposition party, Bright Armenia, agrees to discuss its practical modalities.

“If not a single parliamentary opposition faction is prepared to discuss and work out a roadmap to holding pre-term parliamentary elections we will take note of that fact and move on,” said Boshian.

“Our opposition colleagues are now trying to make everyone believe that they did not speak out against pre-term elections,” said Babken Tunian, another pro-government lawmaker. “They can now reaffirm that once again and make a very concrete proposal, in an appropriate format, as to how, when and through what mechanisms they see the conduct of those elections.”

Tonoyan ruled out such a possibility and made clear that the BHK and its opposition allies making up the Homeland Salvation Movement will continue to campaign for Pashinian’s resignation.

The opposition alliance has scheduled its next anti-government rally for February 20.

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