Armenian president resigns amid national crisis

Armenia’s president, Armen Sarkisian, announced his resignation on Sunday, alleging that due to his role, being so formal, he was unable to “influence” the politics of his country, which is experiencing a real crisis.

The announcement comes after a period of instability in the economically struggling small Caucasus nation and after a bloody war with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

The war, which killed more than 6,000 people, saw the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the disputed mountainous region.

The humiliating defeat to Armenia and the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh in late 2020 eventually sparked massive street protests and an internal crisis that pitted Sarkisian against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

“This is not an emotional decision and follows a certain logic,” Sargsian said in a statement posted on his official website.

“The president does not have the necessary tools to influence important foreign and national policy processes in difficult times for the people and the country,” he added.

Executive power mainly rests with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

– Constitutional Amendments –

At the heart of the dispute between Sargsyan and Pashinyan was the dismissal of the chief of staff of the Armenian army, as Sargsyan refused to sign the dismissal order, a blow to the struggling prime minister.

The head of state is of the opinion that the crisis in Armenia cannot be appeased by frequent personnel changes in the leadership structure of the State.

On Sunday, Sargsian denounced “the fact that the president cannot veto a law that he considers bad for the people and the country.”

“I hope the constitutional changes are finally implemented and the president and the next presidential administration can act in a more balanced environment,” the statement read.

Armenia’s constitution stipulates that Parliament, controlled by Pashinyan-affiliated parties, must hold a vote to decide the next president within 35 days.

A former physics professor, Armen Sarkisian, born in 1953 in Yerevan, the capital, was prime minister from 1996-1997, before being elected by a parliamentary majority as president in March 2018, after becoming ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The announcement of his resignation came shortly after a visit to the United Arab Emirates, after which his office said he would be taking time off for a medical examination, without elaborating.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Armenian economy has struggled.

Money sent by the Armenian community abroad has contributed to the construction of schools, churches and other infrastructure projects, including in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The country has a large and politically powerful diaspora that has spread around the world after the Ottoman-era massacres, and is now estimated at 10 million people, mainly in Russia, the United States and France.

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Matt Thompson

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