New Armenian President Sworn In, As Ex-President Expected To Retain Power

YEREVAN -- Armen Sarkisian has been sworn in as president of Armenia amid speculation that outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian will become prime minister, a post that is now more powerful than the presidency due to constitutional reforms.

Armen Sarkisian, who is not related to the outgoing president, was inaugurated in a ceremony at Yerevan's Karen Demirchian Sports and Concert Hall on April 9.

The 64-year-old Sarkisian, a former ambassador to Britain, was elected to a seven-year term by lawmakers in the South Caucasus nation on March 2.

Opposition leaders have accused Serzh Sarkisian, who was first elected in 2008 and held office for two terms, of seeking the prime minister's job to allow him to retain power.

Parliament is scheduled to elect a prime minister on April 17.

Under a shift that was approved in a December 2015 referendum, Armenia changed its form of government from a semipresidential to a parliamentary republic.

As a result, presidential veto powers have been stripped from the post and the presidency has been downgraded to more of a figurehead position.

Unlike previous post-Soviet presidents in Armenia, Armen Sarkisian was elected by parliament instead of by popular vote.

The constitutional reforms coming into effect also limit the president to a single seven-year term.