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Armenian Lawmakers Choose New President

Outgoing leader Sargsyan denies speculations he will seek to become prime minister, although his party backs the move.

2 March 2018

Armen Sarkissian (pictured) was elected president of Armenia today by members of the country’s parliament. Ninety deputies voted for Sarkissian and 10 opposed him in a secret ballot, A1+ reports.


Sarkissian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, was the only candidate. He was proposed by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and was seen as the handpicked choice of the incumbent president, Serzh Sargsyan.


The election also marks a major power shift. After his inauguration, the levers of power will be transferred to the prime minister, as the result of a 2015 constitutional referendum that also gave lawmakers rather than voters the power to elect the head of state.


“The RPA is widely expected to appoint Sargsyan to be prime minister after the presidential vote. Failing that, he is least expected to remain chairman of the ruling party,” writes.


Answering criticism of the switch to a parliamentary system from the opposition, outgoing president Sargsyan denies this is designed to keep him in power, Reuters reports.


In remarks to parliament yesterday, Sarkissian said Armenian society has become more divided in recent years.

“In the early ’90s, we had a single goal: to win the war imposed on us and the polarization was not so visible,” he said, referring to the war that began when Armenian-backed forces in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh region declared independence.


“Now the republic has become stronger, but social polarization has intensified," Armenia’s Arka news agency quotes him as saying.


He also noted the need to modernize the economy and improve educational outcomes, and said no one would invest in the country until corruption is eradicated and judicial and financial reforms are put in place.



  • Sargsyan’s route to the presidency was dramatically different. Ten years ago yesterday, after he won a popular election widely thought to have been manipulated, 10 people died when supporters of the losing candidate clashed with police in Yerevan.


  • Sarkissian, 64, taught physics at Yerevan State University and Cambridge University in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991, he established Armenia’s embassy in the UK, its first in the West. He served as prime minister in 1996-1997.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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