Armenia parliament elects president out of sole candidate
Armenian lawmakers in the National Assembly are electing a president to succeed Serzh Sargsyan.
The sole candidate for the mostly ceremonial presidential post is an ambassador to the United Kingdom, Armen Sarkisyan. The new head of government - who will also serve as the nation's commander-in-chief - will be nominated by the ruling party and appointed by the president.
Elected by the National Assembly for a single term of seven years instead of the current five, the president will be expected to largely rubber-stamp the prime-minister's decisions.
According to recent amendments to the legislation, he will not be part of the country's Security Council.
The constitutional amendments were passed after a referendum in December 2015, with some 63% of the voters backing the changes.
Armen Sarkisyan's victory required at least 79 votes out of 105.
The inauguration will be held on April 9, after the current president Serzh Sargsyan steps down.
The chairman of the economic commission of the Armenian National Congress, ex-mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the absence of alternatives to this vote discredits the very procedure of democratic elections, but the new rules were deliberately aligned in this way. "After changing the Constitution, not only the opportunity for non-alternative elections appeared, but, in fact, there is no other way. In order to become a presidential candidate, a person must collect more than 20 signatures of deputies, while there are only two factions with more than 20 deputies in our parliament - the RPA and the PAP - and both supported the candidacy of Armen Sargsyan. This contradicts democratic principles, but the Constitution was written specifically to block opposition candidates," he explained.
Vahagn Khachatryan added that very few people are against the candidature of Armen Sarkisyan. "Only the opposition party Yelk, which has only 9 seats in the parliament, promised to vote against Sarkisyan. As for the non-parliamentary forces, only we, the Armenian National Congress party, oppose this candidate. We are not against Armen Sargsyan himself, but against the single option election and the current situation in Armenia. We do not recognize last year's parliamentary elections as having taken place, and therefore we do not recognize this one-candidate-presidential-election," the former mayor of Yerevan concluded.