No consensus reached on early elections yet, Bright Armenia party leader says

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YEREVAN, March 4. /ARKA/ . ‘At this moment no consensus has been reached on any issue, related to holding snap parliamentary polls,’ the leader of the opposition parliament-represented Bright Armenia party Edmon Marukyan told journalists after a meeting today with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinyan renewed his election offer on March 1, when addressing a rally in Yerevan he called after the Armenian military’s top brass demanded his resignation, deepening the political crisis in the country.

One of the two opposition parties represented in the parliament, Bright Armenia accepted the offer, the other party- Prosperous Armenia- which is part of an opposition alliance which has been holding demonstrations in a bid to force Pashinyan to resign has been silent so far.

Marukyan said today that the Prosperous Armenia party leader Gagik Tsarukyan should also meet with Pashinyan, ‘since the processes cannot proceed only taking into account the position of Bright Armenia”.

“When they meet or when the Prosperous Armenia clarifies its position, new negotiations will be held. At the moment, we have not reached consensus on any issue, but there is an understanding of what we must say and look for ways out of the current situation,” Marukyan said.

Marukyan said he was deeply concerned with the ongoing standoff between the top army brass and the government.

“Elections are the most fundamental issue that solves the problem, because if early parliamentary elections are not held, we will not be able to get out of this crisis. I do not see any other way out of this situation,” he said.

Marukyan said that both he and the prime minister have the will to continue these negotiations. He said also that Pashinyan does not link the standoff with the early elections, unlike the Bright Armenia.

“We see a link between both issues, since the problem of the General Staff has been added to the current crisis in the country,” Marukyan emphasized.

Nikol Pashinyan has been facing opposition demands to resign since he signed a peace deal in November with Azerbaijani and Russian leaders to end the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed thousands of young lives, and saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter of a century.

The standoff has intensified after Pashinyan fired a deputy chief of the army’s general staff Tiran Khachatryan who reportedly laughed off his claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded.

After Khachatryan’s sacking the chief of the army staff Onik Gasparyan and more than 40 other high-ranking army officers signed under a statement demanding Pashinyan’s resignation. Pashinyan reiterated by issuing an order to sack Gasparyan and called the demand as attempted coup.

However, Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian refused to sign it and sent back to Pashinyan’s office. “Political struggle must not go beyond the bounds of the law, it should not lead to shocks and instability,” he said in a statement.

Pashinyan quickly resubmitted the demand warning that the president could be impeached if he fails to endorse the move.-0-

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