Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets with Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian, December 29, 2020

Pashinyan, Allies See No Need For Snap Elections

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and lawmakers representing his My Step alliance spoke out against holding fresh parliamentary elections to resolve the political crisis in Armenia when they met late on Sunday, February 7.

In a short statement, My Step said the participants of the meeting saw no popular “demand” for the conduct of such elections proposed by Pashinyan on December 25. They also noted the proposal’s rejection by the two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament, said the statement.

Pashinyan had offered to hold snap elections following opposition protests sparked by the war in Nagorno Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

Virtually all Armenian opposition groups blame Pashinyan for the Armenian side’s defeat in the war and want him to hand over power to an interim government that would snap elections within a year. The leaders of the two parliamentary opposition parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Bright Armenia (LHK), insisted on the prime minister’s resignation when they met with him later in December.

Edmon Marukyan, the leader of LHK, warned of more public calls for a violent overthrow of Pashinyan and his government.

“Of course, this is not Bright Armenia’s [preferred] path,” he said. “But that accumulated [anti-government] energy will burst somewhere and the authorities will be primarily responsible for that.”

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The BHK is a key member of the Homeland Salvation Movement, an alliance of 17 opposition parties that staged the anti-government demonstrations in November and December. Representatives of the alliance said on February 3 that it will resume soon the protests aimed at forcing Pashinyan to step down.

A senior member of BHK insisted, for her part, that Pashinyan was never serious about holding fresh elections.

“The conscious, thinking and patriotic part of the society concerned about the country’s future — and they are a majority — is demanding that Nikol Pashinyan resign as soon as possible,” Naira Zohrabyan said.

“Nikol Pashinyan cannot be one of the few leaders in world history who stayed in power after surrendering lands,” she said.

Reacting to My Step’s statement, the Homeland Salvation Movement coordinator, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, announced on February 8 that the first rally will be held in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on February 20. “Those citizens who thought about getting rid of the government of evil through elections will now take to the streets,” he wrote on Facebook.

Saghatelyan said Pashinyan “abandoned” the idea of holding fresh elections because he realized that he stands no chance of winning them.

Some opposition forces, including the BHK, seemed ready to participate in the possible elections even if they were held by Pashinyan. Former Robert Kocharyan also spoke out against an election boycott favored by other opposition groups.

Kocharyan expressed confidence on January 27 that he and his political allies will win the elections. In an interview with the Sputnik news agency published on Saturday, he likewise suggested that he would be Pashinyan’s main election challenger.

Lawmakers representing the ruling bloc insisted, meanwhile, most Armenians do not want regime change or pre-term elections.

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