Armenian opposition blocks off parliament demanding PM's resignation
Armenian opposition blocks off parliament
In Armenia, the opposition has blocked all entrances to the parliament since the evening of March 9 and demands the resignation of the prime minister and early parliamentary elections.
The opposition says they will unblock the building only after meeting their demands.
However, the morning of March 10 began with a message from the Prime Minister Pashinyan not about his resignation, but about another issue that was painful for the opposition; Nikol Pashinyan wrote on his Facebook page that Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Onik Gasparyan “is considered dismissed from his post by force of law.”
The dismissal of the head of the General Staff was a response to the call for the resignation of the prime minister himself by the generals. Pashinyan regarded this statement by the leadership of the General Staff as an attempt at a military coup and began the procedure for dismissing his chief.
Since the opposition supported the military’s demand for the premier’s resignation and fought for Onik Gasparyan to keep his post, the announcement of his dismissal only added fuel to the fire.
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Dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff
The statement is attached to the post of the prime minister on social media, which says that the dismissal of Onik Gasparyan came into force since the president of the republic did not sign the draft decree submitted by the prime minister on this issue and did not apply to the Constitutional Court within the timeframe established by law.
Immediately after the premier’s statement, it became known that Armenian President Armen Sargsyan nevertheless applied to the Constitutional Court with a request to consider the constitutionality of the amendments to the law “On military service and the status of servicemen.” This is a law regulating, in particular, the grounds for dismissing military personnel from office.
Meanwhile, Nikol Pashinyan has already submitted a petition to the president for the appointment of Artak Davtyan as head of the General Staff. He already held this post from May 2018 to June 2020.
The administration of the President of Armenia announced yesterday that there is no deadline for Armen Sargsyan’s appeal to the Constitutional Court. As a result, he did appeal to the Constitutional Court, but did not challenge the constitutionality of the prime minister’s decision. The President intends only to clarify the issue of compliance with the constitution of the law “On military service and the status of a serviceman.
In a statement published on Wednesday on the president’s website, it is explained that his appeal to the Constitutional Court is due to legislative problems that have become apparent in connection with the initiative of Prime Minister Pashinyan to dismiss the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces from his post:
“The decisions of the Constitutional Court on this application and possible measures can seriously affect the earlier decisions, the current and future processes concerning the current situation, in the context of the interpretation and application of the law.”
Onik Gasparyan will challenge the decision of the prime minister in court
Onik Gasparyan has already applied to the Administrative Court to challenge the decision on his dismissal.
The general issued a statement saying that the entire process of his dismissal is unconstitutional:
“In order to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution and law in Armenia, as well as the exercise of force solely on the basis of law, I applied to the Administrative Court. I will continue my service to the motherland and the Armenian people in a different status ”.
Onik Gasparyan believes that the resolution of the crisis is possible only if the prime minister resigns and early elections are held.
The opposition rally on March 10 is scheduled for 16.00. The entrances to parliament are still blocked, although there are still few opposition supporters here in the morning.
But on March 9 in the evening, the entrances to the National Assembly were blocked by thousands of people who responded to the call of the leader of the opposition Movement for the Salvation of the Motherland and candidate for the post of Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan.
He offered people a new method of fighting to fulfill their demand for the prime minister’s resignation – not to let the deputies into the parliament building.
The situation escalated, and a scuffle ensued between the police and opposition supporters. But in the end, the demonstrators managed to block the entrances to the parliament and set up two large tents from the side of Demirchyan Street.
Since February 25, the opposition has already blocked the entrance to the parliament from the side of the central entrance – Baghramyan Avenue. There are also tents in which opposition supporters spend the night.
Thus, all entrances and exits to the parliament building are completely closed.
On the evening of March 9, the coordinator of the protest action Ishkhan Saghatelyan said that the opposition is ready to unblock the entrances if the Prime Minister announces his resignation and early parliamentary elections. However, the oppositionist is sure that Pashinyan will not take these steps, since statements about early elections are “another lie.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on March 1 that he was ready to hold early parliamentary elections in 2021, if he could agree on this with the parliamentary opposition. So far, the prime minister has managed to negotiate with the leader of one of the two opposition parties represented in the National Assembly.
As the head of the “Enlightened Armenia” party Edmon Marukyan said after this meeting, they failed to reach a consensus, but the dialogue will continue. There is no information about a meeting with the leader of another opposition party yet.