YEREVAN, March 2. /TASS/. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has decided not to sign Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s motion to dismiss Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan and to turn to the Constitutional Court to review the law of military service of 2017, the presidential office said on Tuesday.
"The president of the republic thinks it necessary to take urgent steps to resolve the political crisis around the dismissal of Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Onik Gasparyan. The president has decided not to sign the draft decree. And based on point 4, part 1, article 169 of the constitution, the president will turn to the Constitutional Court to look into the constitutionality of the 2017 law on military service and the status of a serviceman," it said.
"The soonest possible settlement of the matter within the frames of the constitution is of paramount importance for security and stability in Armenia, Artsakh (non-recognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic - TASS), for preventing further split in society, for restoring public unity and solidarity," it said. "The president will continue steps towards further stabilization of the situation and calls on all parties to hold talks to find a comprehensive solution to all the problems."
Under the 2017 law on military service, the prime minister has the right to initiate dismissal of senior officers of the army command without providing any reasons for that. The president plans to challenge this provision.
Under the law, in case the president doesn’t challenge the prime minister’s draft decree with the Constitutional Court, the decree comes into force automatically in three days, Ruben Melikyan, Armenia’s former deputy justice minister, told TASS. "It means that if the president fails to do that before March 3, Onik Gasparyan will be sent to resignation on March 4," he added.
Mass rallies by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s supporters and opponents engulfed the South Caucasian nation on February 25 after Armenia’s General Staff had issued a statement demanding the prime minister and the government step down. Pashinyan slammed that move by the top brass as an attempted military coup and announced a decision to sack the chief of the General Staff.
Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian, who is authorized by the national constitution to appoint and dismiss the chief of the General Staff at the prime minister’s behest, on Saturday refused to sign the decree removing the general. After that, Pashinyan sent back the decree to the president. From that point, the president has three days to either sign the dismissal or challenge it with the Constitutional Court.