Sunday, 21 July

Day Before the Election, Yelk MPs Raise Issue of Presidential Candidate's Qualification

The issue of Armen Sarkissian’s British citizenship was raised today in Armenia’s National Assembly just one day before legislators are scheduled to elect the country’s next president.

Sarkissian, currently Armenia’s Ambassador to Great Britain, in fact, is the only candidate for the job after having been nominated by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).

Nevertheless, doubts have been voiced in the Armenian press that he does not qualify for the post due to citizenship issues (a candidate must have held citizenship of only Armenia during the preceding six years).

Sarkissian, and his supporters, claim that he renounced his British citizenship in 2011.

When RPA faction head Vahram Baghdasaryan read Sarkissian’s CV, Yelk Alliance leader Nikol Pashinyan stood up and asked why the candidate’s documents hadn’t been properly presented.

“I want to call your attention to the fact that the press has published several articles directly and indirectly proving that Sarkissian was a British citizen until 2014. Of course, Mr. Sarkissian has spoken on the matter, but there’s one simple solution. Do we have any document showing when Sarkissian renounced British citizenship? We don’t even have a document proving that he’s a citizen of Armenia, or that he’s lived permanently her in the past seven years,” Pashinyan said.

Baghdasaryan replied that all Sarkissian’s declarations on the matter are backed up by documentation.

“All those documents of interest to you will be provided. If you have other questions, you can follow-up with the proper agencies,” Baghdasaryan said.

Pashinyan shot back that he’s asked the parliamentary secretariat to reveal what documents Sarkissian had provided to prove eligibility but has only received the candidate’s CV and a document stating he’s been nominated by 65 MPs.

“I request all the documents now, immediately,” Pashinyan said.

 Yelk Alliance MP Artak Zeynalyan said it was vital to remove any doubts regarding the election of the country’s next president.

“Our request is that documents solely dealing with Sarkissian’s Armenian citizenship be provided. The question of his British citizenship must be clarified,” Zeynalyan said.

Baghdasaryan repeated that all pertinent documents would be made available.

“If they aren’t sufficient, you have no other recourse but to take the matter to the Constitutional Court,” Baghdasaryan said.

National Assembly Vice President Arpineh Hovhannisyan added that the secretariat had notices from the proper agencies verifying that Sarkissian was only a citizen of Armenia for the past six years and that he permanently resided in Armenia for that time.

Hovhannisyan said those wanting to know on what basis these notices had been drafted had to take the matter up with other agencies, not the parliament.

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