The FINANCIAL — Armenian President Armen Sarkisian has dismissed six government members representing the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) parties amid an ongoing political crisis.
Energy Minister Artur Grigorian, Transport Minister Ashot Akopian, Economy Minister Artsik Minasian, Agriculture Minister Artur Khachatrian, Emergency Minister Grachya Rostomian, and Sports Minister Levon Vagradian have been relieved of their duties, the presidential press service said on October 3, according to RFE/RL.
The president’s decision came after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on October 2 recommended the dismissal of the six because their parties voted for a bill that makes it harder to hold early parliamentary elections.
The bill was passed with the backing of lawmakers from BHK, Dashnaktsutyun, and former Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which holds the largest number of seats in the legislature.
The lawmakers’ move prompted thousands of Pashinian’s supporters to rally outside parliament in the capital, Yerevan, to demand fresh elections.
Pashinian, who met with the parliamentary majority leaders while the protesters were gathered outside, said early on October 3 that he had received assurances that the lawmakers will not block early general elections.
Snap general elections can be called in the South Caucasus country if lawmakers fail twice to choose a new prime minister and the legislature is dissolved. Pashinian has said he was ready to resign to trigger this procedure and parliamentary elections could be held.
Pashinian said the parliamentary leaders of HHK, BHK, and Dashnaktsutyun assured him that they would not field any prime-ministerial candidates should he follow through on his vow to resign to force new elections.
Pashinian, a former opposition lawmaker who took office in May after spearheading weeks of protests that forced Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation, has pushed for early elections following his bloc’s landslide victory in the mayoral race in Yerevan last month in a bid to unseat his political opponents, who have maintained a majority in parliament.
He made clear that he will tender his resignation “in the coming days” to ensure the elections are held “in the first half of December.” He said he might step down even before Armenia hosts a Francophonie summit on October 11-12.
In an apparent reference to French President Emmanuel Macron, Pashinian said he will talk to some leaders of the loose grouping of French-speaking nations to see if such a move would be appropriate.
Pashinian is due to fly to Paris on October 4 to attend the funeral of French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, who died on October 1.