Prime Minister Pashinyan, right, with President Armen Sarkissian

Pashinyan Formally Reappointed Prime Minister

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Nikol Pashinyan was formally reappointed as Armenia’s prime minister on Monday, January 14, more than one month after his My Step alliance won snap parliamentary elections resulting from last spring’s Velvet Revolution in the country.

President Armen Sarkissian signed a relevant decree at a meeting with Pashinyan timed to coincide with the inaugural session of the Armenian parliament, in which My Step has a two-thirds majority.

“Congratulations, Mr. Prime Minister,” Sarkissian told the 43-year-old former journalist at the meeting held in the presidential palace in Yerevan.

“Your success is our country’s success, our people’s, everyone’s, including me, success,” he said.

“I want to emphasize that the main political change anticipated in Armenia has already happened: power has been fully returned to the people and democracy has been established in Armenia,” Pashinyan said for his part.

Under the Armenian constitution, Pashinyan has to name members of his cabinet and ask the president to formally appoint them within five days. He will then have 20 days to submit the government’s five-year policy program to the parliament. The program’s approval by the National Assembly will amount to a vote of confidence.

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It is expected that most of the current cabinet members — including Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan — will retain their posts. Outgoing First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Culture Minister Lilit Makunts have resigned to take up senior positions in the parliament.

Pashinyan is expected to make major changes in the government’s structure. A controversial bill circulated by his office last month calls for reducing the number of ministries from 17 to 12. The post of first deputy prime minister would be abolished altogether.

My Step won as much as 70 percent of the vote in the December 9 parliamentary elections which European observers described as democratic. The strong performance reflected Pashinyan’s continuing popularity after the spectacular success of mass anti-government protests launched by him in April.

Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, called on Pashinyan’s government to carry out “many serious reforms in all areas” when he addressed the newly elected parliament earlier on Monday.

“The first phase of the political changes ends with the formation of the new National Assembly and the new government,” said the president. “A new phase starts: one of realization of hopes and promises and hard, consistent and daily work.”

“You have received ample opportunities to put into practice the ideas of the ‘Velvet Revolution,’ to live up to the society’s expectations and to build a new Armenia,” he told the 132 lawmakers representing My Step and the Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties.

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The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) holds 26 seats and Bright Armenia holds 18 seats, while the HHK failed to clear the 5 percent threshold needed to secure parliamentary seats.

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