YEREVAN (A.W.)— On May 18, the inaugural session of the new National Assembly (Parliament) of Armenia convened. Welcoming remarks were delivered by President Serge Sarkisian and Catholicos Karekin II.
Early into the session, the President signed a decree accepting the resignation of the government. The decree stated that the outgoing members would continue to fulfill their duties until the formation of a new government. This led to the shuffling of government positions as members resigned and new ones were appointed.
President Sarkisian also assured his readiness to work with all political parties and blocs represented in the new Armenian parliament. Meanwhile, the Parliamentarians of the 6th Convocation of the National Assembly took their parliamentary oath.
As the session continued, President Sarkisian appointed Karen Karepetyan as the Prime Minister, while former Health Minister Ara Babloyan was elected as the new Speaker of the Parliament.
Prior to being elected, Babloyan had promised that he would strengthen cooperation between the government and opposition factions. Unlike the previous National Assembly, Armenia’s new constitution allows the opposition to hold the position of one of the two deputy speakers.
According to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the other two deputy speakers are likely to be former justice minister Arpine Hovannisyan and former deputy speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, both of whom have been nominated by the Ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).
Tsarukyan’s block has also nominated Mikael Melkumyan for the post.
The Yelk bloc’s faction boycotted the first session of the National Assembly.
The current National Assembly consists of 58 members from the ruling RPA, 31 from Tsarukyan’s bloc, 9 from the Yelk bloc, and 7 from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).
All members of the new government will be appointed within ten days of the appointment of the Prime Minister.