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Pashinian Says Cooperation With Armenian Ruling Party Possible


A Yerevan shop owner displays a T-shirt depicting Armenian opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian.

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinian said he is not ruling out cooperation with the ruling Republican Party (HHK) if he becomes the country’s next prime minister.

"Our possible cooperation will depend on the actual political situation,” Pashinian told reporters on May 5.

“Many potential situations are possible that will lead us into the future,” he said, adding that his main goal is to "to create a government of reconciliation.”

After leading a wave of protests throughout the Caucasus nation over the past several weeks, Pashinian appears to be on the verge of a dramatic rise to the prime minister's post.

The antigovernment protests forced HHK leader and former President Serzh Sarkisian to step down as prime minister just days after he was elected to the position by parliament.

Sarkisian had been president for a decade, but term limits forced him to step aside last month.

Opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian gestures as he addresses his supporters in Republic Square in Yerevan on May 2.
Opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian gestures as he addresses his supporters in Republic Square in Yerevan on May 2.

However, the HHK-dominated parliament quickly appointed him as prime minister, a switch made possible by constitutional changes that weakened the presidency while bolstering the prime minister's powers.

The move prompted thousands to heed Pashinian's call to take to the streets, outraged that the new system would have allowed Sarkisian to remain Armenia's leader indefinitely.

After failing in an initial parliamentary vote to gain the post, Pashinian was officially nominated for a second time as the only candidate for prime minister his Yelk faction and allied opposition parties on May 3.

Pashinian secured the backing of 41 lawmakers in the 105-seat parliament for his nomination for the next vote, scheduled for May 8.

The HHK holds 58 seats in the 105-seat parliament, but it has said it will vote for whichever candidate is backed by at least one-third of the lawmakers.

With the assurances, Pashinian urged his supporters to take a break from their street protests, stay in touch through Facebook, and be ready to return to the streets on May 8 to ensure parliament carries through on the HHK's pledge to make him the country's new leader.

Under Armenia’s constitution, if a prime minister is not elected in the second vote, parliament will be dissolved and early general elections would be held with the HHK-led acting government in charge of the electoral process.

Pashinian has said elections run by the HHK would not be fair, and he has called for the party to give up power.

In his comments to reporters on May 5, Pashinian said he would call snap elections once in office but only when he was "convinced they would be legitimate and transparent."

"My team and I are considering a few scenarios for holding the snap elections,” he said, adding, without details, that "we will have to amend the Election Code for this purpose."

Pashinian on May 3 said he had met with the ambassadors of Russia, the United States, Georgia, and the European Union and informed them that he is working to settle the country's political crisis.

"Several issues of bilateral relations were discussed as well. Meetings with ambassadors accredited in Armenia will continue," he said in a statement on his Facebook page.

With reporting by TASS and RFE/RL’s Armenian Service
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