Brussels (Brussels Morning) Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan marched through the streets of the capital Yerevan with his supporters on Thursday, in response to the army’s call earlier in the day for his resignation, Deutsche Welle reported.
Pashinyan, accompanied by hundreds of supporters and speaking through a megaphone accused the military of attempting a coup against him. The PM has already faced mass protests against his rule, after being severely criticised for what his opponents termed his “disastrous handling” of the six-week conflict between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Call for resignation
Also on Thursday, the largest opposition party in the country, the Prosperous Armenia, gave him an ultimatum to step down. “We call on Nikol Pashinyan not to lead the country towards civil war and to avoid bloodshed”. In a public statement, the party declared that “Pashinyan has one last chance to avoid turmoil”.
Their ultimatum followed the military’s calls for the PM’s resignation. “The ineffective management of the current government and the serious mistakes in foreign policy have put the country on the brink of collapse”, the Army statement said. Even though the military made no threat to use force against the government, Pashinyan interpreted its posture as a coup attempt.
“The most important problem now is to keep the power in the hands of the people, because I consider what is happening to be a military coup,” the PM told his supporters in a Facebook livestream on Thursday.
More than 4,700 people have died in the fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which took place during September and November last year. The Muslim-majority Azerbaijan reclaimed large parts of the territory that it lost to Armenia in the early 1990s, which are mostly inhabited by Christian Armenians.