Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan Resigns Before New Elections

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan resigned to trigger new parliamentary elections, following months of opposition protests and calls from top army officers to resign over defeat in last year’s war with neighboring Azerbaijan.

The resignation of Pashinyan, 45, will begin the process of dissolving parliament ahead of elections announced for June 20. He earlier met with leaders of the parliamentary parties who agreed not to nominate a new prime minister after his resignation, compelling new elections under Armenian law. He will remain acting prime minister until the vote.

Pashinyan faced mounting demands to step down after more than 3,600 Armenian soldiers were killed in the 44-day war with Azerbaijan before he signed a Russia-brokered truce accord on Nov. 10 to halt the fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement required Armenian forces to withdraw from three Azerbaijani regions following territorial losses in battle that also included key areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.

While opposition forces kept up regular protests calling for Pashinyan to leave office, many of the prime minister’s supporters also joined demonstrations in support of his continued leadership.

He swept to power in the Caucasus republic in May 2018 as leader of Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution” following massive protests that prompted former ruler Serzh Sargsyan to resign.

The resignation was unrelated to U.S. President Joe Biden’s Saturday statement recognizing the mass killings of Armenians a century ago under the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. Turkey rejected the statement and denounced the move as political opportunism.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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