Troops, Veterans Join Protest Against Armenian PM
Army officers and veterans protested Saturday in Yerevan against the dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces amid the country's spiraling political crisis.
Hundreds of military officers gathered outside the Defense Ministry demanding the reinstatement of Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan and then marched to the President's residency.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has faced opposition demands to step down ever since he signed a November peace deal that ended fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Azerbaijan routed the Armenian forces
The political tensions escalated last week when the military's General Staff demanded Pashinian's resignation, and the Prime Minister responded by firing Gasparyan.
The prime minister's order to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff is subject to approval by Armenia's largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who has refused to endorse it.
Some legal experts argued that the order would take effect automatically following Sarkissian's failure to contest it in the nation's high court, but others pointed to legal caveats that could allow the top military officer to stay on.
On Saturday several thousand demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building and then marched through the city center demanding Pashinian step down.
As part of efforts to defuse the political crisis, Pashinian offered to hold a snap parliamentary vote later this year.
But he has rejected the opposition's demand to step down before the vote and let a caretaker successor take the helm.
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