YEREVAN — The Armenian parliament elected on Thursday Minister of High-Technology Industry Vahagn Khachatryan as the new president of the republic.
Khachatryan, who was nominated for the post by the ruling Civil Contract party, will have largely ceremonial powers, just like his predecessor Armen Sarkissian. The latter unexpectedly resigned in late January, saying that during his nearly four-year presidency he has lacked “necessary tools to influence” political and socioeconomic developments in Armenia.
Khachatryan, 62, is an economist who had served as mayor of Yerevan from 1992-1996 during former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s rule. He joined Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government last August.
The parliament controlled by Civil Contract needed two rounds of voting to elect Khachatryan for a seven-year term. His candidacy was backed by 71 members of the 107-seat National Assembly in the second round.
The opposition Hayastan (Armenia) and Pativ Unem (I Have Honor) alliances refused to take part in the elections. In the first round Khachatryan had to garner 81 votes to be elected, however, the ruling party controls only 71 seats in the legislature. In the second round, 64 votes were enough for the candidate to be elected.
Addressing the National Assembly before the votes, Khachatryan made clear that he will be helping the Armenian government implement its domestic and foreign policies.
Khachatrian stated at the same time that he will strive to represent not only Pashinyan’s political team and ordinary supporters but also other strata of the Armenian society. “I’m sure that you don’t want me to be only your president,” he told pro-government lawmakers.
The prime minister was quick to congratulate Khachatryan on becoming president. He noted that Khachatryan is taking office at a time when Armenia is going through a “difficult period of regional and international challenges.”
He reminded that according to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the President of the Republic carries out supra-partisan activities; when exercising his powers, he is guided exclusively by national interests.
“Your rich biography and experience, high personal qualities inspire confidence that you will be just like that while exercising the powers of the President and thus will contribute to the increase of effectiveness and balance of the legislative, executive, judicial branches,” PM Pashinyan said.
The president of Armenia is elected for a term of seven years by the parliament. Presidents are limited to one term of office.