YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) nominated Karen Karapetian, a former Yerevan mayor, for the post of Armenia’s prime minister late on Thursday.
The HHK’s governing council made the widely expected decision, which made Karapetian’s appointment by Sarkisian a mere formality, just hours after Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian announced his resignation.
“The HHK has decided to move towards the [April 2017] parliamentary elections with a new government,” Armen Ashotian, one of the party’s deputy chairmen, told reporters after a late-night meeting of the council.
“Given Karen Karapetian’s activities in the local government system and his deep awareness of economic issues, the energy sector, Yerevan’s municipal affairs and other fields and given his governance skills and personal traits, which will allow him to preside over changes in Armenia’s government system, the HHK gave Karen Karapetian a mandate to form a government,” he said.
Ashotian said that the HHK leadership did not discuss the composition of Karapetian’s cabinet.
Sarkisian promised to form a “government of national accord” shortly after the Armenian authorities’ two-week standoff with opposition gunmen that seized a police station in Yerevan in July.
Sarkisian said on Thursday that he expects his incoming new cabinet to embark on sweeping reforms that would “give new impetus to economic development” as he commented on his decision to change Armenia’s prime minister.
Sarkisian said his choice of the new prime minister, Karapetian, has agreed to “lead a great wave of changes” designed to address popular disaffection with the socioeconomic situation in the country.
“The new government must restore the broadest trust in the authorities and find unconventional solutions for our economy and public life, which will … bolster Armenia’s positions in the region,” he told senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Sarkisian said the main task of Karapetian’s cabinet, which will be formed in the next few weeks, will be to implement the kind of reforms that would significantly improve the domestic business environment.
Karapetian made no public statements immediately after his nomination.
The 53-year-old technocrat managed Armenia’s national gas distribution network, controlled by Russia’s Gazprom giant, before becoming Yerevan’s mayor in late 2010. He unexpectedly resigned less than a year later, citing “personal reasons.”
Karapetian has since lived in Russia and held senior executive positions in various Russian subsidiaries of Gazprom.