“I am going to resign in April,” Pashinian said during a weekend visit to Armenia’s southern Armavir province. “I am going to resign not to leave power but to ensure that pre-term parliamentary elections take place. I will continue to perform the prime minister’s duties in the meantime.”
“If you reaffirm your mandate, I and my team will serve you much better than we have in the past. If you don’t, we will humbly cede the mandate to whom you have elected,” he told residents of a local village.
Under the Armenian constitution, fresh elections will have to be held within two months if Pashinian resigns and the Armenian parliament twice fails to elect another prime minister.
Pashinian announced on March 18 his decision to pave the way for such polls after talks held with the leaders of the two opposition parties represented in the National Assembly. They are understood to have assured him that their parties will not nominate prime-ministerial candidates in the event of his tactical resignation.
One of those parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), is part of an opposition alliance that has been holding street protests in Yerevan in a bid to oust Pashinian over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan. The Homeland Salvation Movement wants the elections to be organized by an interim government. Still, some of its key members, including the BHK, have made clear that they will not boycott the vote planned by the current government.
As Pashinian toured several Armavir villages on Sunday the alliance held another rally in Yerevan. Its coordinator, Ishkhan Saghatelian, said the opposition forces will stage protests in other parts of the country in the coming weeks and try to topple Pashinian after he tenders his resignation in late April.
“We must turn that de jure resignation into a de facto resignation and remove him from power during those days,” Saghatelian told opposition supporters.
Saghatelian indicated at the same time that the parties making up the Homeland Salvation Movement will not opt for an election boycott if they fail to oust Pashinian.