Armenian recipe of democracy: parliament votes for only presidential candidate

Armenia's Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and then Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sign the protocols in Switzerland on Oct. 10 2010

Dalia Grybauskaitė wished Armen Sarkissian continued success, patience and wisdom in performing the important and responsible duties of the presidential position.

The head of the election commission, Gagik Melikyan, said Sarkissian was elected with 90 votes for and ten votes against, in a secret ballot election- the first in Armenia's history, in which the president is elected by the National Assembly instead of popular vote. He gave a short speech in the parliament moments after the announcement of the vote results.

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Ninety lawmakers voted in favor of the 64-year-old Sarkissian, a former prime minister and now the country's ambassador to the United Kingdom; 10 voted against; and one lawmaker abstained. The power in the country will be concentrated in the hands of the legislature and the government, while the functions of the president will be representational. He holds the seat of former President Sergey Sarkissian, who, according to opposition leaders, may remain in office as prime minister. He was prime minister in 1996-97 and served in diplomatic posts, including ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The election also marks a major power shift.

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Clashes over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians, have intensified in the past three years and there was a flare-up in violence there in April 2016.

In remarks to parliament yesterday, Sarkissian said Armenian society has become more divided in recent years.

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Armenia seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991, but remains dependent on Russian Federation for aid and investment.

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