YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Monday that he remains determined to force fresh parliamentary elections in Armenia.

“As I have said, pre-term elections are a priority for us,” Pashinian told reporters after he and the newly appointed members of his cabinet took the oath of office at a ceremony led by President Armen Sarkissian.

“But it doesn’t mean that this is the only issue that we must solve,” he said. “The government has to function normally and it has and will have long-term programs. One thing doesn’t contradict the other.”

“After all, this government will also be taking part in the pre-term parliamentary elections. In what format? That’s a different issue,” he added.

Pashinian called for such elections immediately after tens of thousands of his supporters demonstrating in the streets of Yerevan forced Prime Minister and former President Serzh Sarkisian to resign on April 23. He said last week that he expects the polls to be held later this year.

Pashinian is backed by the three minority factions in the Armenian government that have received ministerial portfolios in his government. Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) still holds a majority of seats in the National Assembly, putting it in a position to block government bills or even initiate a vote of no confidence in the cabinet.

The HHK’s parliamentary leaders have spoken out against the idea of snap elections. They may also oppose major amendments to the Armenian Electoral Code sought by Pashinian and his political allies.

Pashinian made clear on Monday that his political team will draft such amendments before the end of June. He also signaled that it will be seeking personnel changes in the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC) which was formed by the previous government.

Under the Armenian constitution, fresh general elections will have to be called if the prime minister resigns and the parliament twice fails to elect a new premier or if the government’s policy program is not approved by most lawmakers.

 

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