Armenia PM Pashinyan to resign in April ahead of snap election to defuse crisis

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced Sunday that he will resign next month while staying in office until snap parliamentary elections due on June 20, as part of an effort to curb the political crisis gripping the Caucasus country.

Political unrest erupted in ex-Soviet Armenia after Pashinyan in November signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan that ended six weeks of fighting for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The prime minister earlier this month announced snap parliamentary polls that he said were "the best way out of the current internal political situation".

In a visit to northwest Armenia, Pashinyan told villagers that he will "resign in April" ahead of the vote.

"I will resign not to resign, but in order for early elections to take place," he said, according to a video published on his Facebook page.

"I will continue to serve as interim prime minister," he added.

Pashinyan has been under pressure to step down after agreeing to the ceasefire with Azerbaijan, which many in Armenia saw as a national humiliation.

Under the deal, Yerevan handed over swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan and allowed Russian peacekeepers to deploy to regions it had controlled for three decades.

Both anti-government protesters and Pashinyan's supporters have regularly taken to the streets in the months since.

Pashinyan said that if voters support him and his team, they will "continue to serve you better than before".

"If not, we will transfer power to whoever you select," he added.

An ethnic Armenian region, Nagorno-Karabakh broke from Azerbaijan's control during a war in the early 1990s.

Fresh fighting erupted over the region in late September with Azerbaijani forces backed by ally Turkey.

The conflict claimed around 6,000 lives from both sides.

(AFP)