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Armenian PM faces military’s demand to resign, alleges coup

Facing protests after defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Nikol Pashinyan urged to step down by General Staff; calling it a coup attempt, he fires military chief

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks to media after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks to media after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia’s prime minister spoke of a military coup Thursday after the military’s General Staff demanded that he step down following months of protests sparked by the nation’s defeat in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

The General Staff issued a statement calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, which was signed by top military officers. The move was triggered by Pashinyan’s decision earlier this week to oust the first deputy chief of the General Staff.

Pashinyan described the military’s statement as a “military coup attempt” and ordered the firing of the General Staff’s chief.

The developments came after Armenia saw a spike in demonstrations this week demanding the resignation of Pashinyan.

The protests against Pashinyan began in November after he signed a ceasefire pact with Azerbaijan that ceded territory occupied by Armenian forces. The deal ended a six-week war over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh territory in which thousands died. The dispute with Azerbaijan over the separatist territory had gone on for decades.

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