,MOSCOW - Armenia will announce on Thursday or Friday that it is to hold a snap parliamentary election, the Interfax news agency quoted a government minister as saying, amid a political crisis that has pitted Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan against the army. Pashinyan has faced calls to resign since last November when he agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire that halted six weeks of fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Interfax quoted Environment Minister Romanos Petrosyan, a member of Pashinyan's party, on the election decision. The army demanded that Pashinyan quit on Feb. 25, prompting the prime minister to sack the chief of the army's general staff. But that move needed the approval of President Armen Sarkissian, which the president declined to give. The standoff is a major challenge for Pashinyan, who was swept to power by protests in 2018 but has been under fire over his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The November deal brokered by Russia secured significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and until recently was fully controlled by ethnic Armenians. Pashinyan said he had been compelled to agree to the peace deal to prevent greater human and territorial losses. REUTERS
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