Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian vowed late on October 2 to tender his resignation in an effort to force early parliamentary elections before the end of the year.
Rallying tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan, he also announced the firing of six government ministers representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties who he accused of hampering his drive for early elections.
Pashinian called on supporters to rally outside the parliament building in central Yerevan immediately after lawmakers from the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun joined the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) in passing a bill that would make it harder for him to dissolve the current parliament.
Pashinian condemned the bill as a "conspiracy against the Armenian people" as he addressed the protesters, some of whom were blocking the entrances to the parliament building.
"By approving this bill, the Republican party and forces that supported it have officially declared the existence of a counterrevolution," he told the crowd, where some protesters shouted "Niko! Niko!" and "Snap polls!"
"We will have early elections in late November or early December," he declared before entering the building to negotiate with leaders of the parliamentary forces.
"Holding early parliamentary elections was one of the conditions of our velvet revolution, and was included in the government program which was approved by the parliament."
Legislators who voted for the bill, which must be signed by the president to become law, claimed it was not aimed at stopping new elections.
"We made the decision not because we don't want to face early elections, but because we can't accept pressuring lawmakers," parliament speaker Ara Babloyan said.
Under the Armenian Constitution, snap elections can be called only if the prime minister resigns and the parliament fails to replace him or her by someone else within two weeks.
In his speech, Pashinian said that he will step down shortly after President Armen Sarkissian certifies the dismissal of the six ministers affiliated with BHK and Dashnaktsutyun.
"If it turns out that the people stand for preterm elections, then together with the people we will not allow the parliament to elect a new prime minister," he said, adding that he will continue to perform his duties in the interim.
He again insisted that the current National Assembly "does not represent the Armenian people" and that he won a popular mandate to seek its dissolution in the September 23 mayoral election in Yerevan. His My Step bloc won over 80 percent of the vote in that election.
Dashnaktsutyun said, meanwhile, that it was recalling its members, Agriculture Minister Artur Khachatrian and Economic Development Minister Artsvik Minasian, from Pashinian's cabinet.
There was no immediate reaction to the latest developments from the BHK, the second largest parliamentary force, led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian.