Armenian media, including the Public Television Broadcaster, have reported that the ruling Civil Contract party has decided to nominate Minister of High Tech Industry Vahagn Khachaturyan to replace Armen Sarkissian as the country's president.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, Khachaturyan has refused to explicitly deny the media reports, adding that he ‘meets the requirements’ of the position. He also said that Nikol Pashinyan has not formally offered him the position.
Khachaturyan said that Sarkissian’s resignation caught him by surprise. ‘I could not have imagined that I could even think about that position [of President of Armenia]’, he told reporters.
Khachaturyan was once a close ally of Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and had served as Mayor of Yerevan under his government from 1992 to 1996. Khachaturyan was appointed Minister of High Tech industry in August 2021, he was one of many members of the Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress party who joined the Pashinyan administration — to the open chagrin of Ter-Petrosyan.
According to Khachaturyan, he stopped his party activities in 2017, but remains a member — though he said he would terminate his membership before officially accepting a nomination for the presidency.
Armenia’s constitution dictates that from January 31 — the day Armen Sarkissian’s resignation comes into force — the country’s parliament has 35 days to elect a new president.
Armen Sarkissian announced his resignation on 23 January, two days later an article published by Armenian investigative news outlet Hetq revealed that Sarkissian had held a secret second citizenship that made him ineligible for the presidency.
Before Khachatryan emerged as the media favourite for presidential nominee, speculation in the press and on social networks in the country had floated erstwhile Pashinyan ally and Bright Armenia party head Edmon Marukyan and Pashinyan’s chief of staff Arayik Harutyunyan, as possible replacements for Sarkissian.