The newly elected National Assembly (NA) of Armenia held its first sitting today (2 August) in the parliament’s eighth convocation, where Nikol Pashinyan was reappointed prime minister and asked to form a government. Pashinyan’s party, Civil Contract, have a majority with 71 seats in the 107-seat parliament after achieving an unexpected landslide victory in last month’s parliamentary election, taking 53.9% of the vote. The ‘Armenia’ and ‘I Have Honor’ alliances are the second and third-largest parties in parliament, with 29 and 7 MPs, respectively.
The elected members of parliament (MPs) observed a minute’s silence before the start of the session to honour those killed in the 44-day war.
The president of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian participated in the sitting, signing an order to re-appoint Nikol Pashinyan as the prime minister of Armenia, and giving him 15 days to form a government. Based on the prime minister’s recommendation, Suren Papikyan has been appointed as the deputy prime minister of Armenia after having served as minister of territorial administration and development for the past three years. More cabinet positions were also announced, such as the new minister of defence, Arshak Karapetyan, the minister of the environment, Narek Mkrtchyan, and the minister of labour and social affairs, Romanos Petrosyan.
Knyaz Hasanov, the senior NA deputy who chaired the sitting in advance of the election of the parliamentary speaker later today, urged the assembly to put the security of the Armenian people and the strengthening and development of the country first, asking them to “Be united, put aside internal disagreements and use our power and diplomacy to achieve the realisation of the people's aspirations and goals, to strengthen Armenia and the world”. This message of civic responsibility and unity was also stressed by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, who stated: “To overcome the problems the country faces, it is imperative for state, political figures and the whole society to unite”.
The morning session was marred by accusations that MPs Meghri Mkhitar Zakaryan and Sisian Artur Sargsyan – who both ran under the Armenia bloc – had being illegally jailed on charges of abuse of power and fraud, which they both strongly deny. The ‘Armenia’ and ‘I Have Honor’ blocs nominated the two men for the position of parliamentary speaker, and called for a halt to proceedings on the grounds that they were being deprived of their right to vote or be elected. Vladimir Vardanyan, a Civil Contract MP, responded that Zakaryan and Sargsyan were arrested before receiving their mandate, and hence, before they were awarded parliamentary immunity. Civil Contract nominated Alen Simonyan for the position of speaker, the election of which will take place in parliament later today.