Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says the country’s army chief has been relieved of his duties, following a stand-off between the two men after Pashinyan accused Onik Gasparyan of an attempted coup.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses his supporters during a gathering in Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia on February 25, 2021.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses his supporters during a gathering in Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia on February 25, 2021. (Reuters)

The Armenian government has said the dismissal of a top army general at the centre of a political crisis has come into force almost two weeks after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan fired him as he accused the military of a coup attempt.

"... Onik Gasparyan is legally dismissed from his post from March 10," the government statement said on Wednesday. 

The army's general staff and senior military figures demanded Pashinyan leave power on February 25 in the ex-Soviet republic of less than three million.

The move prompted Pashinyan, who swept to power on the back of peaceful protests in 2018, to dismiss the army's Chief of General Staff Gasparyan. 

But the sacking needed the approval of the president, which he declined to give twice.

Pashinyan's government said on Wednesday, however, that the dismissal was now legally effective as the president had not signed the decree within the given timeframe or gone to court under specific articles of the law.

Pashinyan later "appealed to President Armen Sarkissian to appoint General Lieutenant Artak Davtyan as new chief of general staff," government spokeswoman Nune Gevorgyan told AFP news agency. 

'My position is unchanged'

Gasparyan, however, said "my position is unchanged", adding he will appeal against Pashinyan's decree to fire him.

"In order to ensure the supremacy of the constitution and law in Armenia... I appealed to an administrative court," Gasparyan said in a statement.

"I will continue my service to the motherland and the Armenian people in a different status," he said, adding that the "resolution of the current crisis will only be possible if the prime minister resigns and snap polls are held."

READ MORE: From protester to embattled Armenian PM: Nikol Pashinyan’s fall from grace

President appeals court 

Meanwhile, President Sarkissian on Wednesday appealed to the constitutional court to review the legality of Gasparyan's sacking, the president's office said in a statement.

Pashinyan has faced calls to resign since last November when he agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire that halted six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The deal secured significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan, who has rejected calls to resign, said he had been compelled to agree to the peace deal to prevent greater human and territorial losses.

READ MORE: Armenian PM warns army demanding his resignation amounts to coup

Source: Reuters