Edmon Marukian, of the Bright Armenia party, was one of the political leaders who met with President Armen Sarkissian on Saturday to discuss ways of ending the ongoing political crisis triggered by an Armenian defeat in last year’s war against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, including the possibility of holding snap parliamentary elections.
The same day Sarkissian discussed the same agenda with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and leader of the pro-Pashinian parliamentary majority My Step alliance Lilit Makunts.
Under Armenia’s constitution, the parliament can be dissolved and fresh elections can be appointed only if the prime minister resigns and lawmakers twice fail to elect a new head of government within two weeks.
While Pashinian enjoys a comfortable majority in parliament and practically does not need any assurances on the part of the opposition to resign and pave the way for early general elections, he and his political team believe that having a memorandum of understanding signed with Bright Armenia and the other opposition faction, Prosperous Armenia, will exclude any risks of upheavals in the country.
At a news briefing in parliament today Marukian said that the timeframe of holding snap elections is important to Bright Armenia.
“While before I was considering the [government’s] offer [to have a memorandum of understanding] to be an excuse for not holding snap elections, now I see the political will to hold snap elections, so we agree to it,” Marukian said. “But the timeframe of holding snap elections is important to us. We will not object to it if elections are held by June 1. After that, we cannot guarantee that there will be no nominations in the parliament.”
The Bright Armenia party’s leader explained that the current crisis needs the speediest resolution and procedurally the earliest snap elections can be held is within May.
Earlier, Prosperous Armenia party leader Gagik Tsarukian, who is expected to hold a meeting with Pashinian soon, also called for the prime minister’s resignation and snap elections. According to media reports, Prosperous Armenia also wants early elections to be held in May or June.
Tsarukian effectively declined the president’s invitation for talks on March 13 after setting certain conditions regarding its agenda. The Homeland Salvation Movement that has been holding street protests to demand Pashinian’s resignation and of which Tsarukian’s party is a member, did not engage in the talks either.
The movement comprising over a dozen political parties and groups continues to insist that Pashinian must step down and an interim government led by its leader Vazgen Manukian be formed before snap parliamentary elections can be held in at least a year’s time.
It is not clear at this stage whether Pashinian and his My Step alliance approve of the idea of holding snap elections by June. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Sunday, Ruben Rubinian, a senior My Step lawmaker, however, voiced a hope that they will be able to achieve consensus with the opposition regarding the holding of snap elections.