Armenia parliament set to elect Sarkissian as national president
Armenia parliament set to elect Sarkissian as national president

Armenia’s parliament is set to elect Armen Sarkissian on Friday as national president to succeed Serzh Sarksyan, who opposition leaders say could become prime minister and continue to wield power.

Sarkissian’s election to a single seven-year term is unopposed because the ruling Republican Party supports him even though he is not a member of any party. One opposition party says it will back him while another has failed to gather sufficient votes to present its own candidate and will vote against, Reuters reports.

Armenia seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991 but remains dependent on Russia for aid and investment. Many Armenians accuse the government of corruption and mishandling an economy. The country is in line with some other former Soviet republics and countries in eastern Europe in moving away from direct democracy and towards strong central leadership, according to analysts.

Sarksyan became president at an election in 2008 and nominated former prime minister Sarkissian in January to succeed him as his term neared its end. The legislature can elect a president with a three-quarters majority under the terms of a constitution approved in 2015 in a referendum that effectively abolishes direct presidential elections.

Under that constitution, however, the presidency will become largely ceremonial and power will shift to the prime minister and parliament. “If I’m elected, I will put all my efforts and my experience into the solution of national problems,” Sarkissian told the parliament on Thursday.