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Armenian Prime Minister resigns

Local media reported that Abrahamyan (L) might be replaced by 53-year-old technocrat Karen Karapetyan, the former head of national gas distributing company ArmRosGazprom and later Yerevan mayor. Photograph: (Getty)

WION Yerevan, Armenia Sep 08, 2016, 11.11 AM (IST)
The Prime Minister of Armenia announced his resignation at a government meeting today saying the country needed fresh policies, after an economic slowdown this year and outbreaks of violence.

"We need a new approach, new start. That's why I've decided to resign and let the President form a new government," Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan said. 

The resignation comes amid economic slowdown in the country. Armenia's economy started to deteriorate in 2015, economic growth slowed to 3 per cent in 2015 from 3.5 per cent in 2014. The government expects 2.2 per cent economic growth in 2016.

Apart from the economic slowdown, the Armenian government has also faced political challenges, including a flare-up of violence in Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in April between Armenian-backed separatists and Azeri forces.

Two months later, a group of 30 armed men stormed the police station and demanded the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, the leader of the New Armenia Public Salvation Front opposition group, who was arrested in June on suspicion of preparing to seize government buildings and telecoms facilities in Yerevan. 

The incident led to mass protests in the capital when people took to the streets to secure the release of a jailed opposition politician and demand the resignation of the government and the president.

It is not clear who will lead the government, but local media reported that Abrahamyan is likely to be replaced by the former mayor of Yerevan, Karen Karapetyan, currently a top executive at Russian gas company Gazprom.

Experts say the new government is likely to be temporary and the final configuration will emerge only after 2017 parliamentary election and the end of Sarksyan's second term in 2018, when the full transition from the semi-presidential form of government to a parliamentary republic will be completed.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)
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