Armenia’s general staff issued a statement describing a general chosen by Prime Minister as chief of army, after weeks of dispute.
Pashinyan, whose political future has been in doubt since ethnic Armenian forces lost territory in a conflict with Azerbaijan last year, has spent weeks trying to unseat army chief Onik Gasparyan, who had called on the prime minister to quit.
Interfax reported that the general staff press office had issued a statement describing Artak Davtyan, the general chosen by Pashinyan, as the army chief.
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“Armenia’s armed forces will remain neutral on political issues, guided solely by its obligation to ensure the defence, security, territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders as required by the constitution,” Davtyan was quoted as saying in the statement.
Davtyan referred directly to the dispute that had arisen since Gasparyan called for the government to resign, saying it had now “received its resolution, and existing disagreements had moved into the legal sphere”.
Gasparyan has called Pashinyan’s attempt to fire him illegal, as the country’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, had refused to endorse it.
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On Monday, Pashinyan said the appointment of a new chief of staff had come into force by default, because the president had failed to challenge it in court in time.
Gasparyan has yet to accept his dismissal. Armenian news website Aysor.am quoted a lawyer for Gasparyan, Artur Hovhannisyan, as saying Pashinyan had ignored the courts, and a criminal complaint would now be filed against the prime minister.
There was no immediate reply to an email seeking comment from the president’s office.
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Pashinyan has faced calls to resign since last November when he agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire that halted six weeks of fighting in which ethnic Armenians lost territory to Azeri forces in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Pashinyan is set to represent his party at parliamentary elections in June, the TASS news agency cited Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan as saying.