Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned of an attempted military coup against him, following a request by the Armenian army that he step down over the alleged mishandling of a 2020 conflict with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan made the warning on Thursday after the General Staff of the Armenian army issued a statement, signed by top military officers, demanding that he and his government step down.
In response to the military’s call for his resignation, the prime minister fired the head of the army’s General Staff. He announced the decision in an address to the nation broadcast on Facebook, and called on his followers to rally in the capital, Yerevan, to support him.
It was unclear whether the army was willing to use force to back its statement or whether its call was just verbal.
The development comes as thousands of demonstrators have been demanding the resignation of Pashinyan — whom they have called a traitor — over the past months.
Pashinyan came under pressure to step down over a controversial ceasefire that secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh after six weeks of intense fighting between the two countries.
Under a Russian-brokered peace deal, swaths of territory previously controlled by ethnic Armenians were handed over to Azerbaijan, which had lost the territory in an earlier war in the 1990s.
The deal triggered political turmoil in Armenia. Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was forced to resign amid growing discontent across the South Caucasus nation.
On November 9, leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia signed a joint statement on the complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement ended weeks of heavy fighting that left at least 2,400 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.
Pashinyan said at the time he had no choice but to sign the agreement to prevent further territorial losses, calling the situation a “catastrophe.” He stressed that he was taking personal responsibility for the setbacks, but rejected calls from opponents and protesters to resign.