Armenia crisis grows as president blocks bid to fire army chief

Armenia crisis grows as president blocks bid to fire army chief

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Yerevan: Armenian President Armen Sarkisian said Saturday he had refused to sign a prime ministerial order to dismiss the army’s chief of staff, deepening an entrenched national political crisis.

On this occasion, thousands of opposition protesters took to Yerevan Street in Armenia’s capital for the third consecutive day, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nicole Passingyan.

They want him to go over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan, which many see as a national humiliation.

The fresh protests, which have continued on and off since the fighting ended in November, erupted Thursday when Pashinyan defied a call by the military to resign and accused the army of an attempted coup.

He also ordered the chief of the general staff Onik Gasparyan to be fired — but on Saturday, Armenian President Sarkisian, whose role is largely ceremonial, said in a statement that he would not back the move.

“The president of the republic, within the framework of his constitutional powers, returned the draft decree with objections,” the presidency said.

The statement added that political crises “cannot be resolved through frequent personnel changes.”

The leadership of this small South Caucasus country seems to be at a deadlock.

Soon after the announcement, Pasinyang wrote on Facebook that he would send the order to the president again, stating that his decision did not “completely eliminate” the crisis.

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