Armenia’s president refuses order to dismiss military chief

YEREVAN, ARMENIA (AP) — About 15,000 protesters calling for the resignation of Armenia’s Prime Minister marched through the capital on Saturday as pressure on the leader intensified after the country’s president rejected his order to dismiss the Chief of the Military General Staff.

Protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arose in November after he signed a cease-fire ending a six-week war with Azerbaijan over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement saw Armenia lose control of territories in Azerbaijan it had held for more than 25 years.

Top military officers this week joined in demanding Pashinyan’s resignation, a move that he called an attempted coup. He ordered the dismissal of the Chief of the Military General Staff, but the order was subject to approval by Armenia’s largely ceremonial president.

President Armen Sarkissian sent the order back to Pashinyan on Saturday, saying he could not give approval because he considered parts of the decree to be in violation of the constitution. It was not immediately clear if Pashinyan would try to revise the order.

Opposition demonstrators, carrying Armenian national and the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh’s flag, march to the government buildings during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia. PHOTO: AP