Friday, January 22, 2021

Armenian leader backs early vote next year after mass protests news europe

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The opposition calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan backed the prospect of early parliamentary elections next year, after huge protests against his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan wrote on Facebook on Friday that he was inviting interested parliamentary and non-parliamentary powers to talks on the matter, although he did not give an exact date for them.

“I am not hanging on to the Prime Minister’s seat”, he declared, adding that he was ready to continue leading “if the people reaffirm their confidence in these difficult times”.

Pashinyan has come under heavy pressure since the end of the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The opposition calls for his resignation, holding him responsible for the defeat against Azerbaijan.

Since the peace agreement between the two neighbors was signed on November 10, Armenian opposition politicians and their supporters have demanded Pashinyan’s resignation.

The deal saw Azerbaijan regain control of large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas it had lost in the early 1990s.

The deal brokered by Russia ended 44 days of fierce fighting in which the Azerbaijani army routed the Armenian forces.

Pashinyan defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary measure to prevent Azerbaijan from invading the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region.

He argued Friday that his critics did not have broad public support for their demand.

“There is only one way to get answers to these questions: by holding early parliamentary elections,” Pashinyan wrote on Facebook.

Police arrested at least 77 people on Thursday following clashes when thousands of protesters converged in the capital Yerevan and surrounded the heavily guarded government building.

On Friday, opposition supporters continued to block the streets of the Armenian capital and occasionally engaged in brawls with police.

Nagorno-Karabakh is located in Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a war in 1994.

Fighting erupted in the region on September 27 this year and lasted until November 9. In total, more than 4,600 people have died on both sides, most of them soldiers. On the Armenian side alone, 60 civilians were killed.



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