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Armenian PM party wins landslide victory in snap parliamentary polls

Armenia's acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan waves as he walks to vote at a polling station during early parliamentary elections in Yerevan on June 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The party of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has gained victory in parliamentary elections defeating his main rival, former president Robert Kocharyan.

Pashinyan, who had called for early elections in an effort to defuse political turmoil triggered by last year’s defeat in the war against Azerbaijan, won a convincing majority needed to remain prime minister.

The country's electoral commission said on Monday that preliminary results from all 2,008 polling stations gave the Civil Contract party 53.92% percent of the ballots.

Pashinyan tweeted that his party will have a constitutional majority - at least 71 deputies out of 105 - and "will form a government led by me."

He said Armenia would strengthen ties with Russia-led regional groups, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"We are determined to work on improving, deepening and developing relations (with CSTO and EAEU countries), and we will definitely move in this direction," Russia's RIA news agency quoted the PM as saying in an address broadcast on Facebook.

Earlier on Monday, Pashinyan urged his supporters to gather to celebrate his party's victory in the main square of the capital Yerevan in the evening.

"The people of Armenia gave our Civil Contract party a mandate to lead the country and personally me to lead the country as prime minister," Pashinyan said.

However, the electoral alliance of Kocharyan swiftly contested the results and alleged that there were a multitude of voting violations.

Kocharyan's Armenia Alliance bloc, which bagged 21.04 percent of the votes, said it would not concede defeat in the post-war snap parliamentary elections.

"Hundreds of signals from polling stations testifying to organized and planned falsifications serve as a serious reason for lack of trust," the bloc alleged in a statement released early Monday.

The bloc added in its statement that officials were obliged to investigate the "violations."

The general prosecutor's office said earlier that it had received hundreds of reports of election violations. In addition, it said, there were six criminal probes launched regarding bribes given to offices during campaigning.

Final results will be announced a week after the elections.

Pashinyan first rose to power as an anti-corruption reformist on the back of mass protests in 2018.

In last year's Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which lasted six weeks and involved fierce fighting using heavy artillery and drones that killed more than 6,000 people, Azerbaijan prevailed. That triggered political tensions which prompted Pashinyan to hold early elections to end a political crisis that began when ethnic Armenian forces ceded territory to neighboring Azerbaijan.

There were around 2.6 million eligible voters out of a population of three million people who voted on Sunday.

Some observers said the turnout in the South Caucasus country was more than predicted.

In order to form a government in Armenia a party needs to win 50 percent plus one of the 132 seats in the National Assembly.


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