Armenia holds parliamentary elections dominated by Nagorno-Karabakh dispute

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Armenia holds parliamentary elections Sunday after a campaign dominated by bitter divisions over last year’s war defeat to Azerbaijan and the fate of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Polls open at 8 a.m. in Armenia in the election contested by 21 parties and four electoral blocs, and will close at 8 p.m. Parties winning a minimum of 4 percent of votes and blocs with 8 percent or more will enter the parliament of at least 101 seats.

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Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party faces challenges from rivals backed by each of the Caucasus republic’s three former presidents going back to Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Pashinyan came to power after Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution”.

The snap elections are Armenia’s third parliamentary vote in just over four years and were called after months of political crisis following the 44-day war that killed thousands of its soldiers. A Russia-brokered truce in November ended the fighting after Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s backing, reclaimed seven districts occupied by Armenia since a 1990s war and took control of part of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are now deployed in the enclave. While its ethnic Armenian majority declared independence amid the Soviet collapse, Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

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