Armenia’s PM announces snap parliamentary vote to be held on 20 June

Photo: AP

In a bid to defuse the political crisis, Armenia's PM Nikol Pashinyan announced snap polls on Thursday, news wires reported. "Snap parliamentary elections will be held on 20 June," Pashinyan wrote on Facebook.

He has faced calls to resign since November when he signed a peace deal brokered by Russia that ended weeks of fighting for control of the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. Armenia's humiliating defeat at the hands of Azerbaijan's technologically superior army spurred mass protests in the impoverished ex-Soviet republic on the borders of Turkey and Iran, AFP recalls.

Last month Pashinyan fired the country's most senior military official, accusing the army chief of staging a coup after he called on the prime minister to resign. The spat sparked massive demonstrations, with Pashinyan's supporters and his opponents flooding the streets of the capital.

In an effort to ease weeks of tensions that saw Pashinyan's critics set up barricades and camp outside government buildings, the prime minister on Thursday announced an early election for later this year.

On Thursday he said the decision for snap polls was taken after talks with members of the opposition and President Armen Sarkisian, who has also called for Pashinyan to resign.

Prominent members of the opposition, who have been calling loudly for Pashinyan's resignation and leading street demonstrations against his rule, welcomed his announcement. "I said several days ago that we need a new government so that our homeland overcomes the current tough situation," Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of opposition Prosperous Armenia party, wrote on Facebook.

The opposition will hope to make gains to shift Pashinyan's large majority in parliament. His My Step Alliance currently holds 83 seats against the opposition's 49.

Pashinyan has dismissed repeated calls from the opposition to stand down and insisted he handled the war correctly. Earlier Thursday, he defied a court ruling to reinstate the military commander who had called for him to resign, saying the order was unconstitutional.

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