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Armenian PM Faces Military's Demand to Resign

Armenian PM Faces Military's Demand to Resign

Thursday, 25 February, 2021 - 09:45
Police detain an opposition demonstrator during an anti-government protest at the government building in Yerevan, Armenia, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

Armenia's prime minister spoke of an attempted military coup Thursday after the military's General Staff demanded that he step down after months of protests sparked by the nation's defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

The General Staff issued a statement calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, which was signed by top military officers. The move was triggered by Pashinyan's decision earlier this week to oust the first deputy chief of the General Staff.

Pashinyan described the military's statement as a “military coup attempt” and ordered the firing of the General Staff's chief. He urged the military to only listen to his orders and called on his supporters to come to the streets to back him.

Meanwhile, throngs of opposition demonstrators swarmed the streets of the Armenian capital, chanting “Nikol, you traitor!” and “Nikol, resign!”

Opposition supporters blocked the streets around Yerevan, paralyzing traffic all around the capital.

The quick-paced developments came after Armenia saw a spike in demonstrations this week demanding that Pashinyan step down.

Protests calling for Pashinyan's resignation began immediately after he signed the Nov. 10 peace deal that saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas. The Russia-brokered agreement ended 44 days of fierce fighting in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenian forces.

Pashinyan has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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