Thousands march in Armenia, demand prime minister step down

International

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Several thousand people marched in Armenia’s capital Monday, demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation amid pressure for him to step down since November over his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

The protesters marched down to France Square in the center of Yerevan and blocked several adjacent streets, temporarily paralyzing traffic in the city center. After a while, the protest dissipated, but opposition politicians plan to hold another one Tuesday.

Mass protests in Armenia erupted in November last year, after Pashinyan signed a peace deal ceding control over large parts of the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh territory and surrounding areas to Azerbaijan. The Russia-brokered agreement ended 44 days of fierce fighting over the region, in which thousands had died.

Pashinyan has refused to step down under pressure from the protesters, and he has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move that prevented Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The protests had gone dormant in the depth of the winter, but resumed Saturday, with thousands taking to the streets of Yerevan once again.

“Actions of (civil) disobedience need to continue for a long time, the city should be paralyzed every once in a while,” said Ayk Mamidzhanyan of the Republican Party of Armenia.

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