YEREVAN -- Thousands of supporters of former President Robert Kocharian’s opposition Armenia Alliance have rallied in the center of Yerevan ahead of snap general elections this weekend.
The June 18 demonstration in the capital’s central Republic Square came a day after a similar rally by supporters of caretaker Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
Addressing the crowd, Kocharian hailed his alliance’s "triumphant campaign."
“This is not a struggle for power, this is a struggle to return statehood to our people. "
The rally for Kocharian, who served as president between 1998 and 2008, was the last campaign event before the June 20 vote, which is aimed at resolving a political crisis that has engulfed the country since last autumn's war against Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
A close race for first place is expected between Pashinian’s Civil Contract party and the newly created Armenia Alliance, and it remains unclear whether either group will be able to control a majority of seats in parliament after the elections -- either on their own or by forming a governing coalition.
There are 21 parties and 4 political alliances competing.
A second-round vote would be held between the top two parties or alliances if nobody is able to form a governing coalition within six days.
Pashinian, 46, swept to power in 2018 after leading massive demonstrations that ousted his predecessor.
His popularity has plummeted since he signed a Russian-brokered cease-fire deal in November 2020 that halted a six-week war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The deal saw Armenia hand over swaths of territory around the region that ethnic Armenians had controlled since the early 1990s.
The conflict claimed at least 6,900 lives.