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Court Stands By Order To Reinstate Armenian Army Chief


ARMENIA -- Armenian Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparian

A court in Yerevan on Monday reaffirmed its provisional decision to reinstate Colonel-General Onik Gasparian, the former chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff fired last month after demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation.

Gasparian and four dozen other high-ranking army officers voiced the demand in a February 25 statement that accused the Armenian government of misrule and incompetence. The statement was hailed by opposition groups but rejected as a coup attempt by Pashinian.

Pashinian moved to fire Gasparian immediately after the unprecedented act of defiance by the military’s top brass. President Armen Sarkissian twice refused to sign a relevant decree drafted by the prime minister. But Sarkissian declined to challenge its legality in the Constitutional Court, paving the way for Gasparian’s automatic dismissal.

Gasparian responded by asking another court to declare his sacking null and void. In an injunction publicized on March 18, the Administrative Court said that the general must retain his post pending a ruling on his lawsuit.

Pashinian’s office countered, however, that Gasparian will not be reinstated as army chief because he was sacked “by virtue of law.” A lawyer representing it insisted on Friday that the legality of such dismissals cannot be challenged in court.

The lawyer, Tatevik Hayrapetian, petitioned the Administrative Court to rescind its injunction. The court rejected the demand.

Gasparian has said through his lawyers that the government’s refusal to let him continue performing his duties despite the court injunction is illegal. The general asked prosecutors last month to launch a criminal investigation.

Pashinian installed a new chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Artak Davtian, on March 22.

Davtian told reporters on Friday that he believes that standoff between the government and the army’s top brass has been resolved. He said that he is “working very well” with the 40 other officers who demanded Pashinian’s resignation.

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