By Ayya Lmahamad
Armenia's President Armen Sarkissian has resigned. The latter announced this on the Armenian president's website on January 23.
'I've been thinking for a long time, and after nearly four years of active work, I've decided to resign as President of Armenia. It is not an emotional decision; it is based on logic,' the statement stated.
Sarkissian went on to say that the president 'lacks the necessary tools to influence fundamental processes of domestic and foreign policy during this difficult period for the country and the nation.'
Armen Sarkissian took office as Armenia's president on April 9, 2018.
According to Armenian media, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, and Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan are all potential successors to Armen Sarkissian.
Until the extraordinary presidential elections in Armenia, Speaker Alen Simonyan will serve as president pro tempore.
Extraordinary elections in Armenia must be held no sooner than 25 days and no later than 35 days after the president's resignation, according to the country's constitution.
Sarkissian's escape plans
Sarkissian published the text of his resignation from the British capital exactly 25 years ago, the Baku-based news website Day.az said.
'In 1997, when the atmosphere in Armenia was tense between President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and the leaders of the country's power structures over differences over the Karabakh settlement,' the website noted, 'Sargsyan fled to London under the pretext of illness and never returned to his post,' the website said.
Sarkissian is using the disease trick for the second time, this time from London. Thus, amid the political upheaval in Armenia as a result of the devastating defeat in the Second Karabakh War, it was reported on January 5, 2021, that he 'had been infected with a coronavirus and could not return to the country'.
'The perfect alibi for Sarkissian's 'mini-vacation' was British Prime Minister Johnson's announcement of a new lockdown in the UK on January 4, which lasted seven weeks,' the website stressed.
Day.az believes that Sargsyan was forced to flee a sinking ship because he realized that things were only going to get worse, that Armenia was sinking deeper and deeper into a swamp of economic, social, and demographic problems that could eventually lead to the loss of the rest of the country's sovereignty and independence.
Day.az described Sarkissian's resignation as an expected decision for a number of reasons.
It noted that, first and foremost, Sarkissian announced his resignation following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's decision to initiate the process of forming a council of constitutional reforms in Armenia.
According to the Armenian newspaper Hraparak, 'about a year ago, speaking about the need for constitutional reforms, Pashinyan did not rule out the possibility of switching to a semi-presidential system, but at the end of last year he expressed the opposite opinion, stating that he preferred parliamentary rule'.
'However, at the start of the year, Pashinyan directed his political team to re-establish territorial structures and prepare for a constitutional referendum on changing the governance model for a transition to a semi-presidential system, in which the security forces would once again be subject to presidential control. Pashinyan has made it clear that he intends to take over the presidency,' Day.az quoted the Armenian newspaper as saying.
Elchin Alioglu, editor-in-chief of Baku-based news website Milli.az, outlined three major reasons for Sarkissian's resignation. Among them is the fact that, in addition to Russia, there is increasing Western pressure on Armenia, putting an official Yerevan in a difficult position.
Other reasons cited include the fact that the border demarcation and delimitation process with Azerbaijan will soon begin, and that negotiations between Turkey and Armenia will soon yield tangible results.
'A period of farewell to the Armenian 'Karabakh' ideology begins in all cases. He preferred to avoid escalating clashes between the authorities in Yerevan and the diaspora,' Alioglu said.
Pashinyan aspires to be Armenia's president?
In an interview with Sputnik news agency, Armenian political analyst Suren Surenyan said that disagreements with Prime Minister Pashinyan over constitutional reforms could be the reason for Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's resignation.
He claimed that Pashinyan wants to extend his power through constitutional reforms and a transition to a semi-presidential form of government.
The party of the ex-president believes that Armen Sarkissian decided to resign because he recognizes 'a new external threat looming over Armenia'.
'He clears the way for Pashinyan, who has concentrated all power in his hands, including through artificial constitutional reforms,' said Republican Party Deputy Chairman Armen Ashotyan.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews' staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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