Armenia's Pashinyan hopes to clip wings of ex-ruling party in Sunday vote

YEREVAN, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Armenia's acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, who swept to power this year in a peaceful revolution, expects to tighten his grip in a parliamentary election on Sunday which he has brought about to reduce the clout of the ex-ruling party.

Pashinyan, who was elected prime minister in May after weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism in the ex-Soviet republic, stepped down in October to allow parliament to be dissolved and an early election to be held.

Pashinyan is a former newspaper editor who spent time in prison for fomenting unrest in 2008. When he came to power in May, it marked a dramatic break with the cadre of rulers who have run Armenia since the late 1990s.

But the former ruling Republican Party still dominates the parliament, elected in 2017, and Pashinyan has made it clear he expects a new legislature to emerge that better reflects the new political realities in the country.

Nine parties and two blocs are taking part in the election and opinion polls suggest that the My Step Alliance, which includes Pashinyan's Civil Contract Party, will easily win a majority of the seats.

After he swept to power, Pashinyan promised no big shifts in Armenian foreign policy and has offered assurances he will not break with Russia. Armenia hosts a Russian military base and is a member of Russia-led military and economic alliances.

Pashinyan also suggested he would stick with existing policies on the long-running issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A mountainous part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians who declared independence from Baku during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.

Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia still regularly accuse each other of conducting attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Azeri-Armenian border. (Writing by Margarita Antidze; editing by Richard Balmforth)

12/06/2018 11:06

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