Nagorno-Karabakh parliament votes in incumbent for third presidential term

By bne IntelliNews July 20, 2017

The parliament of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh voted in President Bako Sahakyan for a third term in power on July 19, with 28 voting in favour and four against. 

The result was largely anticipated, as Sahakyan had secured the support of the majority Free Motherland Party, as well as of the Democratic and Dashnaktsutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) parties. Meanwhile, his sole opponent, Edward Agabekyan, the head of the opposition Movement 88 party, only received two votes from MPs outside his party.

The new president will serve an interim, three-year term until the general election of 2020, which will effectively mark a transition from a semi-presidential to a presidential form of governance. Armenians voted overwhelmingly in favour of switching to the new form of government in a referendum in February.

A former military commander, Sahakyan has been president since 2007.

With a population of just over 140,000, mountainous and water-scarce Nagorno-Karabakh is a contested territory that was the object of a bitter war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. The majority of the population is ethnic Armenian, but the territory is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. Tensions at the border with Azerbaijan have become more frequent since a three-day war in April 2016 that left more than 200 casualties on both sides.

Peace negotiations since the early 1990s have not brought the two sides closer to a resolution of the conflict. Because the regional government is not internationally recognised, it does not participate in peace negotiations.  

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