YEREVAN, MARCH 2 (The Conway Bulletin) — MPs in Armenia voted in Armen Sarkissian as President under a new constitution approved in 2015 that scraps direct elections for the presidency and dilutes its powers.
As well as relegating the President to a largely ceremonial role, the 2015 constitutional amendments also empowered the PM.
Critics of the government have said that Serzh Sargsyan, who has been president for 10 years, is trampling on democracy and plans to move into the PM’s position to continue running the country. He handpicked Mr Sarkissian for the presidential role earlier this year.
The 64-year-old Mr Sarkissian is a career diplomat who has been ambassador to Britain and in 1996/7 was also Armenia’s PM. He will become the fourth president of Armenia since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union when he officially takes up his new role on April 9.
Shifting power from the President’s office to the PM’s office does have precedence in the region. Both Kyrgyzstan and Georgia have imposed constitutional changes that their supporters have said are important tweaks to constitutions hastily drawn up during the first difficult and chaotic days of independence.
— This story was first published in issue 363 of The Conway Bulletin newspaper