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Armenia's Pashinian Resigns To Force New Elections


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian talks to reporters in Yerevan on October 1.

YEREVAN -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian says he is resigning from his post in order to dissolve parliament and force early elections.

Pashinian made the announcement on national television late on October 16, saying that the early vote was needed "to return the entire power to the people."

Pashinian has pushed for early parliamentary elections by the end of this year following his bloc's landslide victory in the mayoral race in the capital, Yerevan, last month in a bid to unseat his political opponents, who have maintained a majority in parliament.

A former opposition lawmaker, Pashinian took office in May after spearheading weeks of protests that forced his predecessor, Serzh Sarkisian of the Republican Party of Armenia (HKK), to resign.

The HHK-dominated parliament yielded to the popular demand of the protesters to back Pashinian’s candidacy for prime minister. After being elected to the post in May, Pashinian said his government would hold early parliamentary elections within a year.

Under the Armenian Constitution, snap elections can be called only if the prime minister resigns and the parliament fails to replace him or her with someone else within two weeks.

Under the constitution, new elections then shall be held no earlier than in 30 days and no later than in 45 days -- approximately in the first half of December.

Pashinian said his government will "guarantee the free expression of the people’s will" in the general elections.

He also said that he will continue to perform his functions as prime minister until the vote is held, and expressed readiness to continue to lead the government should his political party gain a majority in the polls.

In remarks ahead of a government meeting on October 16, Pashinian said Armenia is entering "a new historical period" during which "it should complete the nonviolent velvet revolution that started in spring."

Arman Egoian, a spokesman for Pashinian, told RFE/RL on October 15 that the cabinet will hold an extraordinary session a day after Pashinian announced his resignation.

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