YEREVAN (RFE/RL, Panorama) — The status of Armenia’s top general remained uncertain on Tuesday, March 9, nearly two weeks after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan decided to fire him in response to demands for the government’s resignation voiced by the military’s top brass.
General Onik Gasparyan, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, and 40 other high-ranking officers demanded that Pashinyan and his cabinet step down in a joint statement issued on February 25. They accused the government of putting Armenia “on the brink of collapse” after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinyan rejected the demand as a coup attempt and petitioned President Armen Sarkissian to sign a decree relieving Gasparyan of his duties.
Sarkissian refused to sign such a decree on February 27, saying that it appears to be unconstitutional and would deepen the “unprecedented” political crisis in the country. Pashinyan criticized the refusal as “unfounded” and resent his motion to Sarkissian in another attempt to get him to fire Gasparyan.
Sarkissian again refused to sign the decree drafted by the prime minister’s office. But he made it clear that he will not ask the Constitutional Court to invalidate it, effectively paving the way for Gasparyan’s removal.
Under Armenian law, the president can keep blocking the prime minister’s decisions only by appealing to the court.