Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the military of an attempted coup and brought supporters to the streets on Thursday, as months of tensions over its defeat in last year’s war with Azerbaijan came to a head.

Iran press/ Asia: Thousands marched through the streets of the capital Yerevan in support of Pashinyan, with the opposition urging him to step down to avoid bloodshed or even civil war. Armenian President Armen Sarkisian, whose role is largely symbolic, said he was taking urgent steps to try to defuse the crisis, calling on all involved to “show restraint and common sense”.

According to Armenian media, Under pressure for his handling of the conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Pashinyan has ignored repeated calls to resign after losing to Azerbaijan in the war.

After largely backing the prime minister for months, the military’s general staff on Thursday joined calls for him to step down, saying in a statement that he and his cabinet “are not capable of taking adequate decisions”.

Pashinyan hit back with an accusation that top brass were mounting an “attempted military coup” and fired the chief of the general staff Onik Gasparyan. Hundreds of supporters then joined Pashinyan to march through central Yerevan, chanting “Nikol Prime Minister!”

Speaking to supporters through a megaphone, Pashinyan called for calm, as dozens of police deployed outside the main government offices. “The situation is tense, but we must agree that there cannot be clashes,” said Pashinyan, who was joined at the march by his wife, daughters, ministers, and security detail.

He said the situation in the country is under control and that the military’s call had been an “emotional reaction” to his firing the previous day of the deputy chief of the general staff Tigran Khachatryan. 219