Armen Sarkisian has been sworn in as Armenia's fourth president as the South Caucasus nation shifts to a parliamentary republic.
The new president took the oath of office at an extraordinary parliamentary session on Monday, in the presence of more than 1,300 guests, including diplomats accredited in Armenia, public and political figures, high-ranking officials and leading media representatives.
“Assuming the office of President of the Republic of Armenia, I swear to be loyal to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, be impartial in the exercise of my powers, be guided only by public and national interests, and to do everything in my power in order to strengthen national unity. May God help me,” Sarkisian said.
During his swearing-in ceremony, the new Armenian president also pledged to work for improvements in the justice system and fight against corruption.
"We must consistently fight against corruption and social injustice," Sarkisian told lawmakers. "We will succeed if we rally round this goal and work together - instead of drawing dividing lines."
The inauguration ceremony was held as power is expected to remain with Sarkisian’s predecessor, Serzh Sargsyan, who will likely become prime minister as the ex-Soviet republic will shift to a parliamentary form of government next month.
Armenian voters in 2015 approved constitutional amendments to change the government system, where the presidency will be largely a ceremonial position.
The changes were approved in a referendum with 63 percent of support.
Sargsyan, whose party holds a majority in parliament, has defended the constitutional reforms as a measure that would consolidate Armenia’s democracy and improve the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.
Critics of the 63-year-old former military officer say the reforms have been designed to increase his power in a new capacity as premier.
Sargsyan has already served as premier in 2007-2008 and so far has not explicitly confirmed that he will seek to become prime minister again.
"I don't aspire to the position of prime minister... But in case I ultimately opt for nominating my candidature, I will dedicate more time to sharing my experience with young leaders," he told journalists in March.
The elections of the new prime minister will be held on April 17.