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Opposition Party Accepts Pashinian’s Election Offer


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) meets with Bright Armenia Party leader Edmon Marukian, December 29, 2020

One of the two opposition parties represented in Armenia’s parliament on Tuesday accepted Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s latest offer to hold snap general elections to end the continuing political crisis in the country.

The leader of the Bright Armenia Party (LHK), Edmon Marukian, said he and Pashinian spoke by phone in the morning and will meet on Wednesday for further discussions on the proposed elections.

Marukian himself called for the conduct of such polls late last week, portraying that as a compromise solution to the crisis deepened by the Armenian military’s unprecedented demand for the government’s resignation. He said Pashinian should stop, for his part, trying to fire the country’s top general, Onik Gasparian.

Pashinian has since continued to push for Gasparian’s removal. At the same time he expressed readiness on Monday to organize pre-term elections.

Speaking to journalists, Marukian did not clarify what his party will do if the prime minister does get rid of the defiant general.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the other parliamentary opposition force, reacted more ambiguously to Pashinian’s proposal. A senior BHK member, Mikael Melkumian, said the party leadership has not discussed it yet.

Unlike Marukian’s LHK, the BHK is part of an alliance of more hardline opposition forces that resumed street protests in Yerevan late last month in a bid to force Pashinian to resign over his handling of the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian already expressed readiness in late December to organize fresh elections. The opposition dismissed the offer, saying that they be held by an interim government after Pashinian’s resignation. The ruling political team stated afterwards that it longer sees the need to dissolve the Armenian parliament controlled by it.

Under Armenia’s existing constitution, snap polls must be called only if Pashinian resigns and the National Assembly twice fails to elect another prime minister. His My Step bloc officially controls 83 seats in the 132-member parliament and should in theory be able to easily prevent the election of another premier nominated by the opposition minority.

Nevertheless, Pashinian demanded in January that the two parliamentary opposition parties formally pledge to refrain from such nominations in the event of his tactical resignation. Both parties refused to do that.

The LHK now seems ready to sign a pre-election “memorandum” with My Step.

But the BHK sees no need for such a deal. Melkumian argued that the ruling bloc controls enough parliament seats to hold elections on its terms.

It was not clear if Pashinian is planning to meet with BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian as well.

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