Armenian protesters break into the government building and demand PM Pashinyan’s exit

A group of Armenian protesters entered a government building in the capital and sang that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan would quit, ahead of rival street meetings expected later on Monday, the RIA news agency reported.

Pashinyan, who has been in power since 2018 in the former Soviet republic with less than 3 million people, is facing a crisis after the army last week demanded his resignation and called on him to reject a coup attempt and dismiss the army’s top general.

However, the president refused to sign the general’s removal on Saturday, declaring it unconstitutional.

Pashinyan has returned his decree demanding that the general be fired to the president’s office.

The country’s security council on Monday called on President Armen Sarkissian to approve the dismissal, the Interfax news agency reported. RIA reported that Pashinyan also met Sarkissian on Monday.

Pashinyan’s supporters plan to gather in his support at 1430 GMT in a central square in Yerevan. Thirty minutes before, his opponent plans to hold a rival protest next to parliament and calls for his fall in a separate square.

Pashinyan has been facing talks of resigning since November last year when he agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped six weeks of fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

His critics accuse him of confusing the conflict in which Azerbaijan made territorial gains in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and until recently completely controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Pashinyan has accepted responsibility for the outcome of the conflict but rejected calls to resign.