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Sarkisian, Parliament Leaders Discuss Constitutional Transition


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian meets with senior members of the Armenian parliament in Yerevan, 12Jan2017.

With only three months to go before the end of his final term, President Serzh Sarkisian met with senior lawmakers on Friday to discuss Armenia’s ongoing transition to the parliamentary system of government.

It was not immediately clear whether Sarkisian shed light on his political future, which remains a subject of intense speculation in the country.

“We must successfully complete this transitional period, and the main criterion for success in this case will be a smooth course free of upheavals,” he told parliament speaker Ara Babloyan, his three deputies, the chairpersons of the parliament’s standing committees and the leaders of all but one political groups represented in the National Assembly.

Sarkisian noted “enormous legislative work” that needs to be carried out in the coming weeks. He cited the need to enact a host of new laws stemming from Armenia’s radically amended constitution that will take effect immediately after the end of his presidency on April 9.

The new constitution will transfer most of the presently sweeping presidential powers to the prime minister, the government and the parliament. It means that the next head of state, who is due to be elected by March 9, will play a largely ceremonial role.

Sarkisian said that the parliament also has to appoint members of new state bodies tasked with overseeing the Armenian judiciary and combatting corruption and pick a prime minister by April. In his opening remarks at the meeting publicized by his office, he again declined to say whether he is planning to become prime minister or take up another top state position.

Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) controls the majority of seats in the current parliament. Some senior HHK figures have already publicly called on the president to stay in power as prime minister. They have said that he will remain the ruling party’s chairman in any case.

A statement by the presidential office said other participants of the meeting presented their “views and proposals” on the ongoing constitutional transition but did not elaborate. The parliamentary leaders also declined to divulge details after the meeting.

The meeting was boycotted by Nikol Pashinian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Yelk alliance. Pashinian claimed earlier this week that Sarkisian disrespected the parliament by “summoning” its senior members to the presidential palace.

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