Armenia's prime minister resigns, clears way for new cabinet

Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan announced his resignation on Thursday, clearing the way for the president to form a new cabinet of ministers following a series of large opposition protests in the country.

"Honestly, there were realistic approaches that had their results, but society remains polarized. A new beginning is needed. There is a need to think about everyone's success and provide a chance for a new government," Abrahamyan said in comments carried by state news agency Armenpress.

Abrahamyan, 58, had been prime minister since April 2014. A likely successor is Yerevan's former mayor, Karen Karapetyan, who has close links to the country's leadership.

There have been several major protests in Armenia since opposition leader Jirair Sefilian was jailed on terrorism charges in June.

Weeks later dozens of gunmen attacked a central police station, taking the deputy head of the country's police force and several others hostage. The gunmen demanded Sefilian's release and the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan.

The hostage-taking, which lasted two weeks, coincided with a series of demonstrations of more than a thousand people in solidarity with the demands.

Sefilian has campaigned for regime change in Armenia and a tougher stance against territorial foe Azerbaijan.

Relations between Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan remain tense after fighting broke out in April over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two former Soviet republics have vied for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, populated primarily by Armenian Christians but recognized by the United Nations as part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.

Last update: Thu, 08/09/2016 - 13:06
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