Armen Sarkisian (No Relation) Elected Next Armenian President

Armenia’s parliament on March 2 elected Armen Sarkisian as the country’s next president.

Ninety lawmakers voted in favor of the 64-year-old Sarkisian, a former prime minister and currently the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom; 10 voted against; and one lawmaker abstained.

Sarkisian succeeds Serzh Sarkisian, who opposition leaders say could now become prime minister and continue to wield power.

Serzh Sarkisian, no relation to the incoming president, nominated Armen Sarkisian as the ruling Republican Party’s pick for president on January 19.

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.

Skeptics see the constitutional reforms as a way for outgoing 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.

With reporting by Reuters