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Armenia Parliamentary Majority Nominates Ex-PM For President

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (right) with Armen Sarkissian in Yerevan earlier this year.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (right) with Armen Sarkissian in Yerevan earlier this year.

The parliamentary factions of the ruling Republican Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), also known as Dashnaktsutyun, have nominated former Prime Minister Armen Sarkisian for president.

Sarkisian met with representatives of the two factions shortly before their February 23 vote. The Republican Party and Dashnaktsutyun are coalition partners.

The move comes after Armenia’s outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian on January 19 named Armen Sarkisian as the Republican Party’s choice to succeed him.

Armen Sarkisian, who is not related to the outgoing president, was Armenia’s prime minister from 1996 to 1997 when he resigned in the midst of a respiratory illness.

He is currently Armenia's ambassador to the United Kingdom and, in accordance with recent constitutional reforms regarding the presidency, is not a member of any political party.

Earlier in January, President Sarkisian said the Republican Party’s candidate should be a person who is not involved in politics and is highly regarded by Armenian society.

Following a referendum in December 2015, Armenia changed its form of government from a semipresidential to a parliamentary republic.

As a result, presidential veto powers are being stripped from the post and the presidency is being downgraded to a figurehead position elected by parliament every seven years rather than a direct popular vote.

The constitutional reforms coming into effect also limit an Armenian president to a single seven-year term.

Sceptics see the constitutional reforms as a way for incumbent President Sarkisian to maintain political control in Armenia by becoming prime minister when the mandate for his second five-year presidential term expires on April 9.

Armenia’s Republican Party controls a simple majority in Yerevan’s 113-seat, single-chamber legislature and is expected to approve Armen Sarkisian as the next president in an early March vote.