https://www.thenationalnews.com-Protesters raw from six weeks of conflict and angered by the sudden announcement of the deal stormed parliament, reports Liz Cookman from Yerevan
Protestors storm the government house in Yerevan, Armenia, after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a statement announcing a complete ceasefire and the end of all military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. EPA.
Angry protests broke out in Armenia’s capital Yerevan in the early hours of Tuesday, with calls for the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after he agreed a deal to end conflict with Azerbaijan over breakaway enclave Nagorno-Karabakh.
Protesters stormed the prime minister’s official residence, as well as the parliament, with emotions running high after six-weeks of conflict that have seen at least 1,300 Armenians killed in a country with a population of just three million.
Some called for revolution, while others chanted “Artsakh is not for sale”, using the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Offices were trashed, with cigarette buts and empty bottles left behind. Mr Pashinyan said on social media that a computer, watch, some perfume and a driver licence had gone missing from his residence in the capital’s central Republic Square.
As the number of protesters in parliament began to wane, opposition MPs gathered in the main chamber, waiting for members of the ruling party to arrive to debate a deal they said was “without consensus”.
Speaking to reporters after a long night, Naira Zohrabyan, an MP from the opposition Prosperous Armenia party, addressed the press at around 7am, saying that the details of the agreement had not been shared or debated.
“What kind of document is it? Is it a surrender, a ceasefire? All we know is that every decision should be democratically agreed in parliament,” she said.
By lunchtime, police said they had regained control of parliament.
Confidence in Mr Pashinyan had already been low, with a number of opposition parties calling for him to step down on Monday.
Mr Pashinyan, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, announced the deal modestly through a 2am Facebook post, later saying he had been forced to agree to it by the military.
The post said it had been a “very hard” decision and “unbelievably painful for me and our people”.
“I made the decision as a result of a deep analysis of the military situation and… based on the belief that this is the best solution in the situation,” he said.
Nikol Pashinyan / Նիկոլ Փաշինյան
Celebrations broke out in the Azerbaijani capital Baku following the announcement, although the full details are not yet clear. The country’s President, Ilham Aliyev, said that he had agreed to a timetable to withdraw its forces from large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia is thought to have agreed to the same.
Azerbaijan’s forces have made steady gains and on Sunday Mr Aliyev claimed they had taken the strategic and culturally significant city of Shusha, also known as Shushi, which Armenia denied.
The leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh region Arayik Harutyunyan said that ethnic Armenian forces had lost some regions in the fighting and that the deal had been unavoidable due to Azerbaijani forces drawing close to the capital Stepanakert.
After an early morning ceasefire took effect on Tuesday morning, hundreds of Russian peacekeepers were quickly en route to Nagorno-Karabakh and Mr Aliyev said Turkey – a key ally of Azerbaijan – will also pay a role.
Conflict over the territory has simmered for decades, but spiralled into fresh fighting at the end of September with both sides accused of the targeting civilians as well as possible war crimes.