Armenian PM Pashinyan to resign ahead of fresh election as protests & constitutional crisis rage on in wake of war with Azerbaijan

Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s embattled prime minister, has pledged to resign next month, and prompt an election, amid pressure in the wake of the disastrous defeat to Azerbaijan in last year’s war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian leader said he has no intention to relinquish power. Instead he plans to be an acting prime minister during a campaign before snap general election, which he earlier promised to hold on June 20. Armenian constitution requires dissolution of the parliament before an early election is conducted. This in turn requires the prime minister to resign and MPs not appointing a replacement within two weeks.

The support for the populist leader, who came into power on the back of mass protests in 2018, tanked in the wake of last year’s armed conflict for Nagorno-Karabakh. The predominantly Armenian region of neighboring Azerbaijan won de facto independence in the 1990s, with Armenia’s military and political support.

In 2020, Azerbaijan backed by Turkey captured back many of the territories lost three decades ago. The defeat was humiliating for Pashinyan, who came under pressure from political opponents and military commanders to resign.

The snap election is meant to renew his mandate to govern Armenia or prove at a ballot box that the Armenian people no longer want him at the helm. Pashinyan’s opponents accused him of stalling instead of taking responsibility for his failures, with some even suggesting that his promise to hold the election may not be fulfilled at all.