President Sarkissian Paves Way for Army Chief’s Sacking

General Staff chief Onik Gasparyan

YEREVAN — President Armen Sarkissian signaled on Tuesday his intention to stop blocking the sacking of Armenia’s top army general demanded by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinyan petitioned Sarkissian last week to sign a decree relieving General Onik Gasparyan of his duties shortly after the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff and 40 other high-ranking officers issued a joint statement that accused the government of misrule and demanded its resignation. Pashinyan rejected the demand as a “military coup attempt.”

Sarkissian refused to sign such a decree on Saturday, 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 have him fire Gasparyan.

Under Armenian law, the president can now keep blocking or at least delaying the sacking only by asking the Constitutional Court to declare the decree drafted by the prime minister unconstitutional. Otherwise, the decree will enter into force even if Sarkissian refuses to sign it for a second time.

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