Nikol Pashinian was formally reappointed as Armenia’s prime minister on Monday more than one month after his My Step alliance won snap parliamentary elections resulting from last spring’s “velvet revolution” in the country.
President Armen Sarkissian signed a relevant decree at a meeting with Pashinian timed to coincide with the inaugural session of the Armenian parliament in which My Step has a two-thirds majority.
“Congratulations, Mr. Prime Minister,” Sarkissian told the 43-year-old former journalist at the meeting held in the presidential palace in Yerevan.
“Your success is our country’s success, our people’s, everyone’s, including me, success,” he said.
“I want to emphasize that the main political change anticipated in Armenia has already happened: power has been fully returned to the people and democracy has been established in Armenia,” Pashinian said for his part.
Under the Armenian constitution, Pashinian has to name members of his cabinet and ask the president to formally appoint them within the next five days. He will then have 20 days to submit the government’s five-year policy program to the parliament. The program’s approval by the National Assembly will amount to a vote of confidence.
It is expected that most of the current cabinet members -- including Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian -- will retain their posts. Outgoing First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Culture Minister Lilit Makunts have resigned to take up senior positions in the parliament.
Pashinian is expected to make major changes in the government’s structure. A controversial bill circulated by his office last month calls for reducing the number of ministries from 17 to 12. The post of first deputy prime minister would be abolished altogether.
My Step won as much as 70 percent of the vote in the December 9 parliamentary elections which European observers described as democratic. The strong performance reflected Pashinian’s continuing popularity after the spectacular success of mass anti-government protests launched by him in April.
The protests were sparked by former President Serzh Sarkisian’s attempt to extend his decade-long rule by becoming prime minister following Armenia’s transition from a presidential to parliamentary system of government. Sarkisian was forced to resign later in April. Two weeks later, the former Armenian parliament dominated by his allies reluctantly appointed Pashinian as prime minister.
Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, called on Pashinian’s government to carry out “many serious reforms in all areas” when he addressed the newly elected parliament earlier on Monday.
“The first phase of the political changes ends with the formation of the new National Assembly and the new government,” said the president. “A new phase starts: one of realization of hopes and promises and hard, consistent and daily work.”
“You have received ample opportunities to put into practice the ideas of the ‘velvet revolution,’ to live up to the society’s expectations and to build a new Armenia,” he told the 132 lawmakers representing My Step and the Prosperous Armenia and Bright Armenia parties.