Political tensions in Armenia rise amid rival rallies

Political tensions in Armenia rise amid rival rallies

YREVAN, Armenia (AP) – Political tensions in Armenia escalated on Monday, with supporters of the besieged prime minister and the opposition each staging massive rallies at sites in the capital.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since he signed a peace deal in November that ended six weeks of intense fighting with Azerbaijan over the Upper region. -Karabakh. The deal brokered by Russia saw Azerbaijan regain control of large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces ever since. more of a quarter of a century.

Opposition protests demanding Pashinyan’s ouster eased over the winter but intensified last week amid a disagreement between him and the country’s military rulers.

The dispute was sparked by Pashinyan firing a deputy chief of the Army General Staff who mocked the prime minister’s claim that only 10% of Iskander missiles supplied by Russia and used by the Armenia in the conflict exploded on impact.

The General Staff then demanded Pashinyan’s resignation, and he responded by sacking the Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Onik Gasparyan. The dismissal has yet to be approved by Armenia’s largely ceremonial President Armen Sarkissian, who sent him back to Pashinyan, saying the move was unconstitutional.

READ MORE: Political tensions in Armenia still high after PM’s coup speech

Pashinyan quickly resubmitted the general’s ouster request, and the first …

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