By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Armenians began voting Sunday in early parliamentary elections amid mounting tensions over their country’s military defeat in fighting against Azerbaijan over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia’s acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, hopes the elections will restore trust in him.
Pashinyan tried to appear confident as he cast his ballot in early elections triggered by anger over a peace deal he signed in November.
The Russia-brokered agreement ended six weeks of fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, reportedly killing 6,000 people.
But it saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.
Armenian forces had held those territories for more than a quarter-century.
Thousands were displaced, and several Armenian churches were damaged or destroyed during and after the clashes.
The deal sparked massive protests of people demanding the prime minister’s resignation.
Prime Minister Pashinyan, who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, has defended the peace deal as painful but necessary to prevent more bloodshed.
But at a campaign rally ahead of the vote, he made clear to Armenians he wanted another chance to prove himself to voters. “The moment of truth has arrived,” he said at a campaign rally.
“These elections create a unique opportunity for the citizens of Armenia to express themselves, Pashinyan stressed.
Sunday’s ballot involves a whopping 21 political parties and four electoral blocs. Analysts see two political forces as the leading contenders: the ruling Civic Contract party led by Pashinyan and the Armenia alliance, led by former President Robert Kocharyan.
Recent media reports cite polls showing Pashinyan’s party and Kocharyan’s bloc in a close race.
And it remained unclear if either will be able to win 54 percent of the parliament seats necessary to form a government.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.