YEREVAN—Armenia witnessed an historic day as the country’s legislature elected Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister weeks after a popular movement toppled the former leader Serzh Sarkisian forcing him to resign a post to which he was elected mere seven days before.
After failing to elect a prime minister on May 1, the parliament on Tuesday with a vote of 59 to 42 elected Pashinyan, the people’s candidate and one that was nominated by one-third of lawmakers to the highest office to the country,
The Republican Party of Armenia, which essentially blocked Pashinyan’s election last week, voted
The session opened with Parliament Speaker Ara Babloyan recognizing that it was the 26th anniversary of the liberation of Shushi, to which the parliament convened with applause from the gathered parliament members.
Pashinyan’s Yelk alliance member Lena Nazaryan introduced the candidate by presenting his biography after pointing out that Armenia has experienced a new renaissance through a people’s movement that has forced change in the country through smile, laughter and dance.
She invited Pashinyan, who outlined that the fact that this session of parliament was taking place on the anniversary of the liberation of Shushi was a clear indication that the heroic battles that realized Artsakh’s liberation will also be applied to free the people of Armenia from the social injustices they have endured for several decades.
The parliament session was taking place as thousands gathered at Republic Square to view the proceedings live on day which Pashinyan on Monday declared a holiday.
Also present and observing the session from the parliament gallery was System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, who arrived in Armenia on Monday and joined Pashinyan at a rally, declaring his support for the popular movement leader.
In his remarks, Pashinyan, among other elements, singled out the role of the Diaspora in the advancement of the future of Armenia.
He also pledged that any upcoming election will be devoid of fraud and the bribery, which have become commonplace in Armenian elections. He said that beginning with the parliament session, the people of Armenia will take part in free and fair elections.
He pledged to continue the negotiations for a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict, saying that was imperative for Artsakh to rejoin the negotiations, based on a decision by the OSCE Minsk Group leaders in a 1992. He also pledged that Armenia would remain on the forefront of advancing international recognition for the Armenian Genocide as an effort to ensure that such crimes are prevented.
Pashinyan also said that his government would reject the practice of a policy of assessing fines on citizens, who are confronted with receiving punitive fines as a way of life and a cycle that confine citizens in a society based on fines.
He also pledged that under his leadership would closely monitor Armenia’s Armed Forces, whose rights would be a priority and whose wellbeing will become a key focal point of his government.
At the same time, Pahinyan recognized the participation of a large number of students in the popular movement, declared that he would reform the educational system in Armenia, where a student will be able to become a part of the advancement of the country’s economy through their professional contributions.
He was also quick to point out that his government will advance women’s right and engaging more women in government. He also pledged a review of the electoral code, and emphasized the importance of critical reforms of the laws, which would ensure that every citizen’s ballot is counted.
Republican Party of Armenia faction leader Vahram Baghdasaryan said that his party has decided to support Pashinyan’s candidacy not as an expression of support but as an effort to emerge from what he called a crisis in the country. As such, he declared that 10 plus one members of his faction would cast their ballot for Pashinyan. He urged the parliament to not count those members as those who have abandoned their party.
A celebration rally followed the election.