Nikol Pashinyan is under mounting pressure to resign over his handling of the recent conflict with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused top military officers of attempting a coup after they demanded he step down, adding fuel to months-long protests calling for his resignation.
Anti-government sentiment swelled last November after a conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region ended, and gathered pace again this week.
With pressure on Pashinyan mounting, the military on Thursday issued a statement calling for his resignation.
Pashinyan responded by firing Onik Gasparyan, head of the army’s General Staff, and later took to the streets of the capital, Yerevan, in a bid to rally supporters behind him.
Throngs of opposition demonstrators took to the streets of Yerevan on Thursday, chanting “Nikol, you traitor!” and “Nikol, resign!” while blocking streets and paralysing traffic around the capital.
Thousands also came out in support of Pashinyan.
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Former president calls for Pashinyan to go
Adding to the pressure on Pashinyan, former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan says the former “must go” as he called on Armenians to “stand by” the country’s armed forces.
“The authorities who have lost the war and surrendered the land must go,” Kocharyan wrote in a statement posted on Facebook. “This is the prime necessity for our national rebirth.”
Turkey strongly condemns ‘coup’: FM
Turkey’s foreign minister condemns what he called a coup attempt against Pashinyan and says it is unacceptable for the military to call for the resignation of a democratically elected leader.
“We are against any coup d’etat or coup attempt, no matter where it takes place in the world. We strongly condemn the coup attempt in Armenia,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in Budapest.
Turkey strongly supported Azerbaijan in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Russia calls for a peaceful resolution
Russia says it is concerned by the growing political tensions in Armenia, where it has a military base.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on the military and Pashinyan’s government to resolve their differences peacefully and within the framework of the constitution.
Armenia is a close Russian ally.