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1ST LEAD Armenian prime minister sets new elections in motion with resignation By Awet Demurjan and Friedemann Kohler, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Yerevan (dpa) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced Tuesday he is stepping down from office, initiating a process intended to force new parliamentary elections.

"Armenia is entering a new stage," Pashinyan said in a televised interview.

Armenian law requires parliament to elect a new head of government within 14 days of the prime minister stepping down. If it fails to vote in favour of a new head of government after two attempts, then new parliamentary polls are called.

Pashinyan has essentially ensured that a new candidate won‘t be elected to lead the government, because he has threatened to send his supporters back onto the streets should any of the parties in parliament put up a candidate for the position.

The election should be held on December 9 or 10 "plus or minus a couple of days" Pashinyan said when he first announced his plans in an interview with French broadcaster France24 last week.

Pashinyan, who was elected in a 59-42 vote in parliament in May, led street protests earlier this year against what he condemned as a power grab by the former president, Serzh Sargsyan.

Armenia was plunged into political crisis in April when the prime minister and former president abruptly resigned amid the protests.

Sargsyan had been president for a decade. When he reached his term limit he was appointed prime minister. Opposition politicians denounced the appointment as an unfair retention of power.

Pashinyan has expressed intentions to strengthen ties with the European Union while maintaining its relationship with Russia.

Russia has traditionally opposed former Soviet republics building ties with the West as it is faced with an erosion of its regional dominance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reminded Pashinyan that Russia is Armenia‘s main economic partner, with Russian sources accounting for more than a third of investments in Armenia.

Russia also serves as a peacemaker in Armenia‘s decades-long conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.


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