STEPANAKERT, Artsakh—Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan announced on Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2020.
“I want to officially announce that I will not participate in [the next] elections as a presidential candidate,” Sahakian said in a televised interview to Artsakh’s and Armenia’st public television stations.
Sahakyan, whose current term ends in 2020, extended his rule after Artsakh adopted a new constitution after a referendum in Feb. 2017, which will see the country transition into a fully presidential system by 2020.
Last July, Artsakh’s parliament voted to allow Sahakyan to remain as president during a three-year transition period.
In his interview, Sahakyan said that he will be participating in the next elections not as a candidate, but as an ordinary citizen, and will take all necessary measures to make sure that the voting is conducted freely and fairly.
Sahakyan’s announcement comes amid the resignations of several top Artsakh officials, following a violent clash in Stepanakert on June 1, between officers of Artsakh’s National Security Service (NSS) and citizens. Following the dispute, demonstrations began taking place with around 200 people blocking the capital Stepanakert’s main avenue for four days, calling the resignation of the NSS and law enforcement authorities.
Many, including three NSS officers, were arrested and Artsakh authorities promised to ensure an objective criminal investigation of the matter. The protests ended peacefully after Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appealed to the demonstrators on June 4. Following the protests, the chiefs of the local police and NSS as well as Artsakh State Minister Arayik Harutiunyan resigned.