Armenia's embattled PM appoints new chief of military

Armenia's embattled PM appoints new chief of military
2 min read
Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia's prime minister, has appointed a new chief of the military.
Armenia has a new military head [Getty]

Armenia's prime minister appointed a new chief of the military on Wednesday after his order to fire the previous top general, who was at the centre of a political crisis, came into force.

Last month Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ordered the dismissal of the army's chief of staff Onik Gasparyan, accusing him of staging a coup after he called for Pashinyan to resign.

Pashinyan has been under increasing pressure to step down for his handling of last year's war with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Gasparyan's call on February 25 for Pashinyan to resign sparked mass protests, with the prime minister's supporters and critics flooding the streets of the capital Yerevan.

On Wednesday, Pashinyan said his order from two weeks ago had come into force.

He then "appealed to President Armen Sarkisian to appoint General Lieutenant Artak Davtyan as new chief of general staff," government spokeswoman Nune Gevorgyan told AFP.

Gasparyan accepted his dismissal reluctantly, saying he would appeal against Pashinyan's decree to fire him.

"In order to ensure the supremacy of the constitution and law in Armenia... I appealed to an administrative court," Gasparyan said in a statement.

"I will continue my service to the motherland and the Armenian people in a different status," he said, adding that the "resolution of the current crisis will only be possible if the prime minister resigns and snap polls are held."

Protesters have regularly taken to the streets in Yerevan to demand Pashinyan's resignation ever since he signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan in November that ended six weeks of fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Under the deal -- which many in Armenia see as a national humiliation -- Yerevan agreed to hand over swathes of territory to Azerbaijan.

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