Ceremonial Duties

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Armenian lawmakers elected former minister of high-technology industry, Vanagh Khachatrian, as the country’s new president, following the resignation of his predecessor over the lack of power in the presidency, Radio Free Europe reported Thursday.

Khachatrian won 71 votes in the second round of balloting and is supported by lawmakers from Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s ruling Civil Contract party.

His election comes more than a month after outgoing President Armen Sarkisian abruptly resigned amid disputes with the prime minister.

Sarkisian said that the president lacked any power or influence during times of national crisis.

Before his resignation, Sarkisian and Pashinian had clashed over a number of issues, particularly following the end of the six-week war with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory in 2020.

The conflict ended with a Russian-brokered peace deal but Armenian forces lost control of vast areas of the region and adjacent districts. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan was able to recapture land lost during a separatist struggle in the early 1990s.

The outgoing president complained that he was left out of the negotiations to end the war and criticized Pashinian for firing Armenia’s military leaders during anti-government protests that ignited over the peace deal.

Under the constitution, Armenia is a parliamentary republic with the prime minister serving as the head of the executive branch of government, while the president occupies a primarily ceremonial role.

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