Onik Gasparyan to serve as chief of army’s staff until the end of 8-day deadline

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YEREVAN, March 3. /ARKA/. In a statement issued today, the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces said Armenian President Armen Sarkissian refused on March 2 to sign Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resubmitted petition to dismiss the chief of the staff Onik Gasparyan.

Citing paragraph 4 of part 1 of Article 169 of the Constitution, Sarkissian said he will ask in a separate application the Constitutional Court to determine the compliance of the Law On Military Service and the Status of Serviceman dated November 15, 2017 with the Constitution.

‘According to Article 139 of the Constitution, the President can, within three days, returns the petition with his objections to the body that submitted it. If the body does not accept his objections, then the President signs a corresponding act or applies to the Constitutional Court. If this does not happen, then the corresponding act comes into force,’ the statement posted on the Facebook of Samvel Asatryan, the head of the information department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, says.

It notes that according to Article 168 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court is not empowered to decide on the constitutionality of the draft presidential decree or on the dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff.

It also says the deadline for the president to apply to the Constitutional Court is 8 days after the return of the draft decree.

“The President declared his intention to act exclusively in accordance with the Constitution. The Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Onik Gasparyan continues his service as the highest military commander of the Armed Forces until the expiration of the 8-day deadline,” the statement says.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been facing opposition demands to resign since he signed a peace deal in November with Azerbaijani and Russian leaders to end the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed thousands of young lives, and saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter of a century.

The standoff has intensified after Pashinyan fired a deputy chief of the army’s general staff Tiran Khachatryan who reportedly laughed off his claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded.

After Khachatryan’s sacking the chief of the army staff Onik Gasparyan and more than 40 other high-ranking army officers signed under a statement demanding Pashinyan’s resignation. Pashinyan reiterated by issuing an order to sack Gasparyan and called the demand as attempted coup.

However, Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian refused to sign it and sent back to Pashinyan’s office. “Political struggle must not go beyond the bounds of the law, it should not lead to shocks and instability,” he said in a statement.

Pashinyan quickly resubmitted the demand warning that the president could be impeached if he fails to endorse the move.-0-

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