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Snap Elections Inevitable, Says Pashinian Ally


Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan (C) and his deputy Alen Simonian (R) arrive for the Armenian government's question-and-answer session in the National Assembly, Yerevan, March 3, 2021.

The holding of snap parliamentary elections in Armenia is inevitable, a close associate of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Wednesday.

Pashinian proposed the elections in late December following opposition protests sparked by Armenia’s defeat in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Opposition forces dismissed the offer, saying that they must be held by an interim government after Pashinian’s resignation.

The ruling political team stated last month that it no longer sees the need to dissolve the Armenian parliament controlled by it. It claimed that most Armenians do not want that either.

Pashinian renewed his election offer on Monday after the Armenian military’s top brass demanded his resignation, deepening the political crisis in the country. One of the two opposition parties represented in the parliament, Bright Armenia (LHK), accepted it.

LHK leader Edmon Marukian insisted on Wednesday that fresh elections are the only realistic way to end the crisis even if they are held by the current government. He said he will likely meet with Pashinian on Thursday.

The other parliamentary opposition party, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), again avoided clarifying its stance. The BHK is part of an opposition alliance which has been holding demonstrations in a bid to force Pashinian to resign.

Alen Simonian, a senior member of the ruling My Step bloc, expressed hope that an election-related agreement with the parliamentary opposition will be reached after all.

“In my view, there is no way we can avoid pre-term elections because they are first and foremost needed by the authorities,” Simonian told reporters.

He at the same time said: “The elections may take place only if all sides, or at least most of them, reach an agreement, and so we are going down that path.”

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 BHK and the LHK formally pledge to refrain from such nominations in the event of his tactical resignation. Both parties refused to do that.

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