Armenia holds test general election

Armenian acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks during a parliament session in Yerevan, ArmeniaImage copyright

Image caption

Protest leader-turned PM Nikol Pashinyan spearheaded Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution”

Armenians are voting in an early parliamentary election on Sunday, a key test for the man behind the peaceful “Velvet Revolution” that swept the country in April.

Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister by lawmakers in May, after weeks of anti-corruption protests.

He pledged an end to election-rigging.

Eleven parties and political blocs are on the ballot, and Mr Pashinyan’s My Step Alliance is expected to win a parliamentary majority.

Polls opened at 08:00 local time (04:00 GMT), and will shut at 20:00 (16:00 GMT). Results are expected in the early hours of Monday.

Mr Pashinyan, 43, a newspaper editor turned opposition politician, stepped down in October so parliament could be dissolved ahead of the vote. As such, he is now acting prime minister.

Parliamentary polls had not been scheduled to happen until 2022, and critics have argued that the snap election disadvantages other candidates.

“All political parties were deprived of time to prepare well for the elections,” said Armen Ashotyan, vice-president of the Republican Party, which previously governed Armenia and still dominates parliament.

Mr Ashotyan said the country’s multi-party democracy was at risk from “so-called post-revolutionary euphoria” – which he expects to see reflected at the ballot box.

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Opponents of Nikol Pashinyan say the snap vote gave them little time to prepare

On Friday, a court of appeal ordered the arrest of ex-President Robert Kocharyan, on charges of trying to overthrow the constitutional order.

Mr Kocharyan, who was president from 1998 to 2008, denies the charges and has accused Mr Pashinyan of waging a “vendetta” against him and his family.

In a statement, the Republican party accused “the authorities and Pashinyan in particular” of organising the arrest to “strengthen the atmosphere of fear, demonstrate force and step up pressure on their opponents in this pre-election period”, Radio Free Europe reports.

Armenia is a former Soviet state of three million people, and hosts a Russian military base. It is a key ally for Moscow in the Caucasus, and depends on Russia for its security.

Mr Pashinyan previously reassured MPs that relations with Moscow would remain a priority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.