Armenian army demands prime minister resign
Armenia’s army has demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over his management of a six-week conflict with Azerbaijan.
The conflict took place in 2020 in the Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally considered part of Azerbaijan but which has a majority ethnic Armenian population. The 2020 fighting ended with Armenian forces ceding territory to Azerbaijan, leading to calls for Pashinyan’s resignation. The prime minister has said he takes responsibility for the outcome but will not step down, Reuters reported.
The army officially called for the prime minister’s resignation Thursday, saying “the ineffective management of the current authorities and the serious mistakes in foreign policy have put the country on the brink of collapse.”
It specifically cites his decision to fire the first deputy head of the Armenian army’s general staff.
Pashinyan rejected the army’s call for his resignation and said the demand constituted an attempted coup. “The most important problem now is to keep the power in the hands of the people, because I consider what is happening to be a military coup,” he said in a Facebook livestream.
Pashinyan said in his livestream that he has fired the head of general staff of the armed forces, which also requires the approval of President Armen Sargsyan.
The prime minister then addressed a crowd of thousands of supporters outside the main government building in the capital of Yerevan. “The danger of the coup is manageable,” Pashinyan said, according to Reuters. “We don’t have enemies inside Armenia. We have only brothers and sisters.”
Pashinyan is set to deliver additional remarks later in the day.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Armenian counterpart that the Kremlin, which has a military base in the former Soviet state, is closely monitoring the situation but considers it a domestic matter at this point, according to Reuters.