Bako Sahakian, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, was sworn in for another term on Thursday almost two months after local lawmakers voted to extend his decade-long rule.
Sahakian, 57, was reelected after serving two consecutive five-year terms. He was not allowed to stay in power longer before Karabakh enacted a new constitution in a referendum held in February.
The new constitution calls for the Armenian-populated region’s transition by 2020 to a fully presidential system of government which will lead to the abolition of the post of prime minister. The authorities in Stepanakert say this change will put Karabakh in a better position to cope with the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan. Their opponents maintain, however that Sahakian is simply keen to cling to power.
Sahakian will continue governing Karabakh as an interim president until 2020. His candidacy for that post was backed in July by 28 of the 33 members of the Karabakh parliament representing three political parties allied to him.
Sahakian pledged to implement democratic reforms, strengthen Karabakh’s security and ensure continued economic growth of the local economy in his speech at an inauguration ceremony held in Stepanakert. “We are going to do everything to protect the honor and dignity of the Armenian people,” he declared.
The Karabakh leader again did not clarify whether he will run in the next presidential election due in 2020.
Vitaly Balasanian, the secretary of Karabakh’s presidential Security Council, suggested in July that Sahakian is unlikely to seek another reelection in 2020.
A retired army general, Balasanian was the main opposition candidate in Karabakh’s last presidential ballot held in 2012.