Thousands of supporters of Armenian caretaker Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gathered in the center of Yerevan as he staged his last campaign rally ahead of early parliamentary elections this weekend.
Addressing his supporters packing Yerevan’s central Republic Square on June 17, Pashinian said security, law, and justice, as well as economic and human development would be his priorities if he returns to his post after the June 20 vote.
"Higher standards of justice and law create new opportunities for economic development," he said.
The June 20 poll is aimed at resolving a political crisis that has engulfed the country since last fall’s war against Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. There are 21 parties and four political alliances competing.
A close race for first place is expected between Pashinian’s Civil Contract party and the newly created Armenia Alliance of former President Robert Kocharian.
But it remains unclear whether either group will be able to control a majority of seats in parliament after June 20 -- either on their own or by forming a governing coalition.
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.