Armenian President Calls for Premier to Resign Over War Defeat
(Bloomberg) -- Armenian President Armen Sarkissian called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and for snap parliamentary elections, amid a deepening political crisis over the country’s defeat against Azerbaijan in fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The entire Armenian people are entering a period of new trials in which every mistake can bring forth disastrous consequences,” Sarkissian said in a televised speech late Monday, in which he also called for the creation of a national unity government until elections are held. “I hope that all the political forces will realize the responsibility of the moment.”
The president’s powers are largely ceremonial and he lacks authority to dismiss Pashinyan, something that requires a vote of parliament in a chamber that’s overwhelmingly controlled by the premier’s party since he swept to power in Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” Sarkissian said he consulted with many political parties in Armenia and an “absolute majority” wanted the prime minister to step down and call elections.
Protests continue in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, against Pashinyan’s acceptance of a Russia-brokered cease-fire last week that requires Armenian forces to withdraw from three Azerbaijani regions outside Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan also took control of the key city of Shusha, which Armenians call Shushi, inside the unrecognized republic before the truce was called after 44 days of fighting.
Nearly 2,000 Russian peace-keeping troops have been deployed to the region to oversee implementation of the accord.
Pashinyan has accepted responsibility for the loss of territories that Armenian forces had held since a 1994 cease-fire halted an earlier war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to reach a peace deal despite three decades of international mediation led by France, Russia and the U.S.
Pashinyan has said he accepted the truce to halt the latest fighting because his country’s military resources were exhausted and Azerbaijani troops were nearing Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-held capital of Stepanakert. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan resigned Monday amid a public split with Pashinyan over details of peace negotiations before the Sept. 27 war erupted.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.