SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 22 June 2021, Tuesday |

Armenia’s PM renews request for dismissal of military’s head after president turns down initial plea

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian earlier in the day rejected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s request to dismiss Armed Forces’ General Staff Chief Onik Gasparyan.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Saturday that he would submit another request to President Armen Sarkissian to seek the dismissal of Armed Forces’ General Staff Chief Onik Gasparyan.

“Dear compatriots, the president has decided to return with rejections to the prime minister’s office the draft of the decree on the resignation of the armed force’s general staff chief. This decision has not promoted the settlement of the current situation. I will again, in due course, convey a request to the president for the resignation of the general staff chief, waiting for his signature”, Pashinyan said.

Earlier in the day, Sarkissian turned down Gasparyan’s dismissal, saying that Pashinyan’s request to fire the military chief contradicted the country’s constitution.

“The Republic’s president, within his constitutional powers, has returned the draft of the decree with objections … Generalizing opinions of lawyers and experts, the conclusion is that the decree’s draft fundamentally contradicts the Constitution”, the office wrote on its website.

The office stressed that Sarkissian did not support any party to the row and was guided exclusively by national interests in his decision.

“With no doubt, the armed forces should remain neutral on political issues. It is evident that due to the war, the armed forces personnel need common support and attention more than ever. The solution to the problems of the army’s personnel is prioritised and cannot be neglected”, the statements said.

According to the office, the president believed that the current political situation in the country had no precedence and should be settled through comprehensive decisions rather than individual reshuffles in the armed forces’ command.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Saturday that he would submit another request to President Armen Sarkissian to seek the dismissal of Armed Forces’ General Staff Chief Onik Gasparyan.

Earlier in the day, Sarkissian turned down Gasparyan’s dismissal, saying that Pashinyan’s request to fire the military chief contradicted the country’s constitution.

“Dear compatriots, the president has decided to return with rejections to the prime minister’s office the draft of the decree on the resignation of the armed force’s general staff chief. This decision has not promoted the settlement of the current situation. I will again, in due course, convey a request to the president for the resignation of the general staff chief, waiting for his signature,” Pashinyan said.

Protest Against Armenian Prime Minister Gathers Some 10,000 Participants in Yerevan

Around 10,000 opponents of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have gathered for a demonstration in front of the parliament building in the capital of Yerevan.

Protesters have blocked traffic in the Marshal Baghramyan avenue’s segment adjacent to the parliament building. They installed a scene which the leaders of the Armenian opposition use to make statements, chiefly calling upon Pashinyan to resign.

Free tea and cakes were arranged for the participants.

Despite heavy police presence at the scene, officers do not intervene. The police have blocked driveways to the avenue and cordoned off the parliament building.

Protests are held outside of the Armenian capital as well. In the southeast town of Kapan, residents took to the streets to express solidarity with the Armenian military, which has also demanded that Pashinyan step down.

Kapan Mayor Gevorg Parsyan, who attended the rally, lashed out at the prime minister for deepening the domestic crisis and severing the ties with Russia.

“Every day he delivers some ridiculous statements. What is his issue with Iskanders? He ruined the relations with Russia and caused problems with the general staff of the armed forces. This political power has plunged the country into a deep crisis and chaos — the governance system does not work and this is leading us toward a collapse”, Parsyan told the rally.

Protests in Yerevan began this past Thursday in response to Pashinyan firing several high-profile military officials, including army chief of general staff Onik Gasparyan and deputy chief Tigran Khachatryan, who mocked the prime minister’s controversial comment about the alleged failure of Russian-supplied Iskander missiles during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The military demanded that Pashinyan step down, which the prime minister slammed as an attempted coup.

Earlier on Saturday, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian turned down Pashinyan’s request to dismiss Gasparyan, deeming it unconstitutional.