Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks at a rally for Yerevan mayoral candidate Hayk Marutyan on September 10

Pashinyan Urges Yerevan Voters To Reaffirm Victory Of ‘Revolution’

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on voters in Yerevan to reaffirm the results of last spring’s “velvet revolution” in an upcoming ballot in the capital – the first major election in Armenia since the change of government.

Twelve parties and alliances are contesting the ballot in which Yerevan’s municipal assembly and eventually mayor will be elected.

A pro-Pashinyan alliance in the elections called My Step is led by popular actor and producer Hayk Marutyan.

Speaking at a rally launching the My Step campaign on Monday, September 10, Pashinyan said that more than just a mayoral position and Marutyan’s candidacy were at stake.

“Those who vote for My Step and for Hayk Marutyan vote for early parliamentary elections,” he said.

The holding of early parliamentary elections within a year is part of the program of the Pashinyan government approved last May.

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Under the current Constitution, snap general elections can be held only if the prime minister resigns and lawmakers twice fail to elect his or her replacement.

In the past several weeks Pashinyan publicly spoke of scenarios in which former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) that still dominates the National Assembly could break political agreements and try to install another prime minister if he steps down as prime minister. As an additional safeguard he, therefore, suggested a constitutional amendment that would allow the parliament to dissolve itself.

Addressing the pro-Marutyan rally, Pashinyan warned other political parties and groups, which he did not name, against planning a “counterrevolution.”

“Some political forces that present themselves as advocates of the revolution are conducting negotiations with the HHK for the latter to help them with their vote-rigging resource,” Pashinyan asserted. “Come to your senses, madmen!”

The head of the Armenian government said, therefore, the September 23 vote has an “exceptionally important political meaning.” “As at these elections people, citizens of Armenia at polling stations should reaffirm the victory that they registered in Republic Square…, reaffirm people’s power, the victory of the people’s nonviolent velvet revolution in Armenia,” Pashinyan underscored.

Marutyan, who was one of the active Pashinyan supporters during peaceful antigovernment protests in spring, was criticizes by political rivals last week for his remarks in which he made a division of the political spectrum into “whites and blacks” ahead of the Yerevan elections.

“It’s a very clear situation in Armenia today. There are white forces and black forces. I want to officially state that we are white forces, and all those who do not want us to succeed are black forces,” Marutyan said on September 2.

The remarks were swiftly construed by representatives of the former government as discrimination against part of society that does not share the ideas of the political team that came to power in Armenia in the wake of last spring’s ‘velvet revolution’.

Marutyan later publicly regretted having used the expression. Pashinyan then weighed in on the issue, acknowledging that Marutyan’s remarks were “not quite correct.”

The HHK is not participating in the Yerevan elections. Its senior member Taron Markarian resigned in July after serving as Yerevan mayor for seven years. The Council of Elders could not elect a new mayor, triggering early elections.

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