YEREVAN, “Armenia” – On Thursday, the Prime Minister of Armenia called early parliamentary elections in June, as he tried to calm down the country’s political crisis.
The opposition, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, demands that he resign before the vote.
In a Facebook statement following his talks with the leader of the opposition faction in parliament, Pashinyan said the parliamentary vote would take place on June 20.
The opposition split over the prospect of elections. Vazgen Manukyan, a veteran politician whom the opposition called the caretaker Prime Minister, rejected the move, and former National Security Service chief Arthur Vanetsyan said his Homeland opposition party would run in the election.
After suffering a humiliating defeat in an armed conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh last year, Armenia was plunged into political tensions in the territory of Azerbaijan, which has been controlled by Armenian-backed separatists for more than 25 years.
Opposition supporters block government buildings and barricaded streets to suppress Pashinyan’s resignation.
Pashinyan refused to step down in support of the November peace deal, which ended six weeks of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh as the only way for Azerbaijan to dominate the entire region.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian-backed ethnic Armenian forces since the separatist war ended in 1994.
The Russian-brokered peace deal allowed Azerbaijan to regain control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh and its environs.
Pashinyan rejected the opposition’s demand to resign before the vote. The 45-year-old former journalist, despite his defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh, retained significant public support, with thousands rallying behind him to resist pressure from the opposition to oust him.
On Thursday, Pashinyan overturned a court ruling challenging his decision to fire the country’s top officer, a legal controversy that deepened the nation’s political crisis.
The administrative court of the capital Yerevan on Wednesday ruled that the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan, should remain in office until his dismissal is appealed.
The statement issued by Pashinyan’s office rejected the court decision, considering it illegal. At the same time, according to the lawyer, Gasparyan showed up at his workplace on Thursday.