Armenian PM resigns to clear way for snap election

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Armenia, on Oct 16, 2018.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Armenia, on Oct 16, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

YEREVAN (REUTERS) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday (Oct 16) he was resigning from his post in order for parliament to be dissolved and an early election held.

The former opposition leader was put in power by a parliamentary vote in May after weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism, but there have been no parliamentary elections since the revolution last spring.

Pashinyan has said the composition of parliament does not reflect the country's new political reality.

"The aim of my resignation is not to shirk the responsibility I took on myself before you, but on the contrary to take the velvet revolution to the end through early elections and fully return power to the people," he said on Tuesday.

Early parliamentary elections can be called in the ex-Soviet republic of three million people if parliament fails twice to choose a new prime minister and the legislature is dissolved.

Public support for parties not affiliated with Pashinyan is very low - not only for the former ruling Republican party but also others including Prosperous Armenia and Dashnaktsutyun.

The My Step Alliance, which includes Pashinyan's Civil Contract Party, won 81 percent of the mayoral vote in the capital Yerevan last month.

Pashinyan, whose popularity rating is high, said he would remain acting prime minister until a new one is elected by a new parliament. He said earlier this month he wanted parliamentary elections to be held in the first half of December.