Armenia parliament elects country's new president

By: AFP
Published: 06:27 PM, 3 Mar, 2022
Armenia parliament elects country's new president
Caption: Armenia parliament elects country's new president.
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Armenia's parliament on Thursday elected high-tech industry minister Vahagn Khachaturyan as the country's new president, a figurehead role under the constitution, after his predecessor's surprise resignation in January.

Seventy-one MPs from the ruling Civil Contract party approved Khachaturyan's bid for a seven-year term, in a vote boycotted by opposition parties.

"Our region must become a platform for cooperation," Khachaturyan, 62, told lawmakers ahead of the vote.

"We must forge friendly relations with neighbours, live in peace and develop our country within the framework of this logic." 

In 2020, Armenia fought and lost a war with neighbour Azerbaijan over the control of the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

After a conflict that left more than 6,500 dead and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

The outcome was seen as a national humiliation, sparking mass anti-government protests.

Khachaturyan's predecessor, Armen Sarkisian, stepped down on January 23, saying the limitations of his office left him unable to influence policy at times of national crisis.

An economist by training, Khachaturyan served as the mayor of Armenia's capital Yerevan in 1996-1998 before joining the board of directors in Armeconombank. 

Last year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appointed him minister of high-technology industry. He has no party affiliation.

Armenia's economy has struggled since the Soviet collapse, counting on money sent home by Armenians abroad to help build schools, churches and other projects, including in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia has a large and politically powerful diaspora spread across the world in the wake of Ottoman-era massacres.

The number of ethnic Armenians is estimated at 10 million, most of whom live in in Russia, the United States and France.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.