Armenia: PM defies ruling to reinstate military chief

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday defied a court ruling that ordered him to reinstate a military chief he had fired, deepening a political crisis sparked by last year's war with Azerbaijan.

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Pashinyan pushed out the army’s chief of staff Onik Gasparyan last month, accusing him of staging a coup after he called for Pashinyan to resign.

But a court on Tuesday ordered that Gasparyan be temporarily reinstated pending a final ruling in an appeal against his dismissal.

Pashinyan's office rejected the ruling, saying “legal acts can't have a retroactive force” according to Armenia's constitution and that “procedures to appoint new chief of staff are under way.”

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Pashinyan last week appealed to President Armen Sarkisian to appoint Artak Davtyan as new chief of general staff.

Calls for Pashinyan to stand down began in November when he signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan that ended six weeks of fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Under the deal -- which many in Armenia see as a national humiliation -- Yerevan agreed to hand over swathes of territory to Azerbaijan.

Both anti-government protesters and Pashinyan’s supporters have regularly taken to the streets ever since, as the premier defied calls for his resignation.