Tigran Mukuchian, the current CEC chairman who has been in office since 2011, will complete his tenure in October 12. His successor will be appointed by the Armenian parliament controlled by Civil Contract.
Vahagn Hovakimian, a senior lawmaker from Pashinian’s party, announced on Monday that he is its candidate for the key post. He said he is terminating his membership in the party and resigning from the National Assembly to comply with legal requirements set for Armenia’s top election official.
News of Hovakimian’s likely appointment was first reported by the Yerevan daily Zhoghovurd in July. Opposition leaders expressed serious concern over such a prospect, saying that Pashinian is seeking complete and direct control over electoral process in the country.
Hovakimian, 48, is a former journalist who worked for Pashinian’s Haykakan Zhamanak daily from 1998 to 2012. Pashinian hired him as a parliamentary assistant after being first elected to the National Assembly in 2012.
Hovakimian became a parliament deputy in 2019. He has since co-sponsored major bills which critics say are aimed at helping Pashinian tighten his hold on power.
In particular, Hovakimian was one of the authors of controversial 2020 constitutional changes that led to the dismissal of Constitutional Court judges at loggerheads with the Armenian government. Opposition lawmakers charged at the time that the parliament approved the changes in breach of legal procedures for amending the constitution. Hovakimian and other Pashinian allies denied breaking the law.