YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The Armenian parliament voted on Friday, March 2, to elect Armen Sarkissian, a former prime minister who has long resided in Britain, Armenia’s new and largely ceremonial president.
Sarkissian was nominated for the post by the outgoing President Serzh Sargsyan (no relation) and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in January. He was also endorsed by the HHK’s junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), and businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance, which is officially in opposition to the government.
The opposition Yelk alliance, the fourth political group represented in the National Assembly, has rejected Sarkissian’s candidacy. Yelk, which holds nine seats in the 105-member parliament, has also questioned his eligibility to serve as head of state.
Sarkissian was elected in secret ballot by 90 votes to 10. He gave a short speech in the parliament moments after the announcement of the vote results.
“I want to thank those who voted for me and those who voted against me,” he said. “I will invest my long experience and knowledge and my entire energy in properly performing the duties of Armenia’s president and properly serving the Republic of Armenia, its citizens and our people.”
“And I certainly expect your and our citizens’ support for and participation in our future important victories,” added the president-elect.