Armenian President Armen Sargsyan on Saturday rejected a prime ministerial order to sack the army’s chief of General Staff.
“The sole purpose of the President is to protect the country from threats against the constitutional order and security, to ensure stability in the country and the functioning of the armed forces,” a presidency statement said.
Sargsyan refused to sign the order and returned the draft decree with objections.
Earlier this week, Onik Gasparyan, the chief of General Staff of the Armenian army, along with other senior commanders released a statement calling for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to step down.
Pashinyan blasted the military’s call as a coup attempt, and urged his supporters to take to the streets to resist.
He later announced the dismissal of the chief of General Staff on Facebook.
The unrest follows the end of a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan last fall widely seen as a victory for the latter.
Relations between the former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
During the six week-conflict, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce, Azerbaijan liberated several strategic cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages from Armenian occupation.
Before this, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
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