YEREVAN, February 27. /TASS/. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian decided on Saturday not to put his signature under Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s order to dismiss Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan, who alongside the other military top brass, had demanded the prime minister’s resignation, the presidential press service said.
"Within his presidential powers, the president has sent back the draft order with objections. The president pursues the only goal of protecting the country from threats to its constitutional order and security, of ensuring the country’s stability and the normal functioning of its Armed Forces," the statement says.
Sarkissian added that he was not supporting either of the political forces, but the decree dismissing the chief of the General Staff, according to lawyers, was unconstitutional.
"There is no doubt that the Armed Forces should maintain political neutrality. It is evident that due to the war, the Armed Forces’ personnel needs our support more than ever. Our top priority is to address military personnel’s problems. In no way must they be neglected," he added.
According to the president, the country is experiencing an unprecedented situation, which requires systemic and comprehensive solutions and cannot be solved with frequent reshuffles.
After the president had sent back the prime minister’s proposal to dismiss the chief of the General Staff, Pashinyan has five days to submit it again. After that, the president should either sign the decree or to appeal it at the Constitutional Court within three days.
On February 25, mass rallies of Pashinyan’s supporters and critics began in Armenia after the General Staff of the Armed Forces had called for the resignation of prime minister and his cabinet. The statement was signed by Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan, his deputies and other top brass. Pashinyan slammed the move as a military coup attempt and announced his decision to dismiss the chief of the General Staff. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, who, under the Constitution, is in charge of appointing and dismissing the chiefs of the General Staff at the prime minister’s initiative, has not signed that order yet.