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Armenian prime minister 'ready' to face early elections

March 2, 2021

Nikol Pashinyan has asked for forgiveness as a political crisis threatens a power struggle in Armenia. But the opposition is still demanding his resignation.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wearing a face mask as he attends a Security Council meeting in Yerevan, Armenia on March 01, 2021.
Nikol Pashinyan has held office as prime minister since 2018Image: Prime Ministry of Armenia/AA/picture alliance

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told supporters on Monday that he was ready for early elections to end a political crisis if Parliament agrees.

The opposition has demanded his resignation since November over his handling ofthe Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

Tensions rose again last week following a dispute between the prime minister and senior military figures.

Concern is growing in Armenia

What did Pashinyan say? 

At least 20,000 of Pashinyan's supporters filled Yerevan's central Republic Square. The prime minister was speaking on the anniversary of 10 people dying in protests against the election results on March 1, 2008. 

"Let's go to the polls and see whose resignation the people are demanding," Pashinyan said. 

People take part in a rally demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan
The political uncertainty is threatening to set off a chaotic power struggle in ArmeniaImage: Aram Nersesyan/Sputnik/dpa/picture alliance

He suggested calling a constitutional referendum in October on expanding presidential powers. But he did not elaborate on his suggestion.

The prime minister also admitted to making mistakes in the conflict with Azerbaijan and his recent row with the military.

Pashinyan fired an army general and accused him of plotting a coup, but the Armenian president blocked the dismissal. 

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh after the 2020 war

What are protesters demanding? 

Thousands of opposition proesters also rallied on Monday, demanding the prime minister's resignation. 

Since November, demonstrators have marched against Pashinyan after he had signed a ceasefire ending a six-week conflict with Azerbaijan. More than 4,700 people died in the fighting and Armenia handed over large areas of territory.

The opposition previously announced it would boycott the next elections if Pashinyan ran for office. 

Armenia protests

fb/rt (AFP, AP)