YEREVAN: Armenia lifted martial law on Wednesday, five months after the end of its brutal war with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The decision to lift the order came as part of a deal between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the opposition to defuse a political crisis fueled by Armenia’s crushing defeat in the 6-week conflict.
The premier’s critics have held regular demonstrations urging him to step down for his handling of the war since November when he agreed a ceasefire and ceded swathes of territory to Azerbaijan.
Armenian law says a sitting PM cannot be removed during martial law and the move to lift it came after Pashinyan agreed with the opposition to hold fresh parliamentary elections in June to end the demonstrations.
Parliament, which is controlled by Pashinyan’s allies voted Wednesday 118 to 1 with one abstention to lift martial law, which was declared September 27, the day clashes broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Parliament speaker and Pashinyan ally Ararat Mirzoyan announced on Tuesday that the ruling party would back the move “since a deal has been reached between political forces on defusing the internal political situation through snap polls.”
Armenia’s simmering territorial conflict with Azerbaijan ignited in September into an all-out war that claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.
The ceasefire brokered by Russia saw Pashinyan hand over swathes of Azerbaijan that had been controlled for several decades by Armenian separatists.
They had controlled the ethnic-Armenian region since they broke away from Baku during a war in the early 1990s.