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Armenia’s prime minister fires top military official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinayn

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has dismissed the country's top military official over the allegation that the military has effectively staged a coup against his government, despite President Armen Sarkissian’s refusal to sign a decree calling for the general’s resignation last month.

Pashinyan’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that the army’s Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan “is legally dismissed from his post from March 10.”

The government said that the dismissal was legally effective due to the president’s refusal to sign the decree within the given time frame.

Later in the day, the president appealed to the constitutional court to review the legality of Gasparyan’s dismissal, according to his office.

“The president hopes that a quick decision [of the Constitutional Court] will provide legal certainty and will contribute to settling the crisis,” it added.

Last month, Pashinyan sent an order for approval to the president’s office to dismiss Gasparyanm, after the military called for the prime minister’s resignation.

The prime minister said the military’s call for his resignation amounted to an effective coup. 

Sarkissian, however, described the order as “unconstitutional.”

He said that the political crisis that had grown over the government’s handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan “cannot be resolved through frequent personnel changes.”

The prime minister has been facing calls for resignation amid widespread protests since he signed a ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on November 6.

The truce deal, which left Azerbaijan largely in control of the territory, sparked angry protests in Armenia.

Pashinyan has rejected calls to resign, saying that he had no choice but to agree to the ceasefire or see his country’s forces suffer even bigger losses.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.


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