Armenia’s war defeat prompts bitter vote on rebuilding country

Armenians vote on Sunday in a snap parliamentary election that will decide their post-war future following defeat in last year’s conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We must establish a dictatorship of law, a dictatorship of the free will of the people,” acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told supporters as he waved a steel hammer.

“This is the symbol of construction, we must build Armenia anew.”

Armenia needs a new start, after losing swathes of territory during a six-week war last autumn that cost thousands of lives.The question is who can deliver it. Twenty-two parties and four political blocs are contesting the Sunday vote, called by Mr Pashinyan to put an end to repeated protests demanding his resignation.

All three former presidents since Armenia became independent in 1991 are taking part in the race. And they are all in opposition to Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party.

“This is a Jurassic Park political contest, the return of dinosaurs in many ways,” says analyst Richard Giragosian from the Regional Studies Centre in Yerevan.

The opposition frontrunner is Karabakh-native Robert Kocharyan – president from 1998-2008 – who heads the Armenia bloc.

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