The Nagorno Karabakh parliament voted to approve the new constitutional draft, replacing the basic document adopted in December 2006. In the 33-seat Assembly, 20 voted in favor, 7 against, 1 abstained and 5 did not vote. President Bako Sahakyan has set the referendum date for February 20.
In recent months, the Karabakh authorities have been building domestic support for the constitutional change that will allow Sahakyan to remain president beyond the current two five-year terms (2007-17). As part of this effort, Sahakyan appointed his 2012 challenger, MP and retired general Vitaly Balasanyan to be secretary of the National Security Council and his 2007 challenger, former deputy foreign minister Masis Mayilyan, as his special envoy.
Proposed changes would eliminate the post of prime minister and call for simultaneous election for president and national assembly to be held every five years. Incidentally, a similar proposal is currently being advanced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey.