Armenian PM Steps Down, Sets Stage For Early Parliamentary Vote

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has tendered his resignation, formally freeing the way for parliamentary elections to be held in an effort to defuse a political crisis prompted by the country's war last year with Azerbaijan.

"According to an agreement with the president and political forces, today I’m stepping down in order to hold early parliamentary polls on June 20," Pashinian announced on Facebook on April 25.

Pashinian said he plans to continue to fulfill his duties as prime minister until the vote, and plans to take part in the elections.

"I will be a candidate for the prime minister," said Pashinian, who will run as a candidate for his Civil Contract party. "If people decide that I should resign as the prime minister, I will do their will and if they want me to continue my job as the prime minister, I will also do the people’s will."

The move follows recent changes made to Armenia's Electoral Code that the opposition has said are aimed at helping Pashinian win.

The changes worked out by Pashinian's My Step alliance revamp parts of the Electoral Code introduced in 2016 by the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), two years before Pashinian was swept into office after leading mass protests against the pro-Russia HHK of former President Serzh Sarkisian.

The amendments will switch the Caucasus country's electoral system to a fully proportional one.

To this point Armenians had voted for parties and alliances as well as individual candidates, whereas the next elections will be held only on a party-list basis.

Armenia has been embroiled in a political crisis since Pashinian signed a Russian-brokered cease-fire in November 2020 to end the war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Following talks with the opposition, Pashinian agreed in March to hold the early vote in June.

Opinion polls show that public confidence in Pashinian's government has fallen sharply since then, with its approval rating falling from 60 percent to around 30 percent today.

With reporting by TASS and AFP

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