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Pashinian, Opposition Leader Fail To Agree On Elections


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets with Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party, March 4, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and the leader of a major opposition party on Thursday met but failed to agree on snap parliamentary elections which they believe should be held to end the political crisis in Armenia.

Edmon Marukian, who leads the Bright Armenia Party (LHK), said he insisted during the meeting that Pashinian stop trying to sack the country’s top army general, Onik Gasparian, who demanded the government’s resignation last week.

“I cannot imagine pre-term elections without a solution to the issue of the chief of the [army’s] General Staff but want the elections to take place as soon as possible,” Marukian told reporters. “That is why I was suggesting that we reach consensus, put this matter on hold, deal with it after the elections and move on.”

“The prime minister says that the two issues must not be linked to each other,” he said.

Pashinian petitioned President Armen Sarkissian last week to formalize Gasparian’s dismissal immediately after the chief of the General Staff and 40 other high-ranking officers issued a joint statement accusing the Armenian government of misrule and demanding its resignation.

The statement was condemned as a coup attempt by Pashinian but hailed by opposition groups trying to topple him with street protests. Although the LHK is not among those groups, it too effectively defended the military’s top brass.

Pashinian renewed his offer to hold fresh elections on Monday amid rising political tensions in the country. He reiterated on Wednesday that their conduct is conditional on consensus among his My Step bloc, the LHK and the second parliamentary opposition party, Prosperous Armenia (BHK). He said he will meet with the leaders of both parties for that purpose.

The BHK has still not officially responded to Pashinian’s proposal. It also remains unclear whether its leader, Gagik Tsarukian, will agree to meet with the embattled prime minister.

Marukian said that he and Pashinian agreed to meet again after the BHK clarifies its stance. The LHK leader would not say whether he is ready to drop his condition for an election-related deal with the government.

“I hope that we will somehow find a way out,” he said. “I don’t yet know how we will find that way.”

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