Armenia’s embattled prime minister has confirmed that he will step down from the post in April in order to allow an early parliamentary election to take place.
Nikol Pashinyan has faced months of protests calling for his removal in the wake of Armenia’s defeat in last year’s war with Azerbaijan. In a move to defuse the political crisis, Pashinyan two weeks ago announced that an early election would be held on June 20.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Under Armenian law, such elections can be held after a prime minister resigns and the parliament fails twice to choose a new one.
“I will resign in April – not to leave power, but to hold early parliamentary elections. I will continue to act as prime minister” as head of the Cabinet, Pashinyan said Sunday in a meeting with residents of the village of Aragats. He did not give a specific date for stepping down.
Armenia has been gripped by political tensions after suffering a humiliating defeat last year in an armed conflict with Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory within Azerbaijan that ethnic Armenians have controlled for more than 25 years.
Pashinyan signed a peace deal in November that ceded parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and large swaths of adjacent Armenian-controlled territory.
He has defended the move as the only way to have prevented Azerbaijan from taking the entire region.
Pashinyan has retained significant public backing despite the defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, with thousands rallying in his support to counter the opposition-led pressure for his resignation.