Armenian PM steps down to make way for ‘new beginnings’

Armenian PM steps down to make way 
for new beginnings. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Armenian PM steps down to make way for new beginnings. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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The prime minister of Armenia has resigned following weeks of widespread protests, saying the country needed “new approaches” and “new beginnings”.

Hovak Abrahamyan said his government had failed to tackle the “polarisation” of his nation and pledged that he would remain in the political process in Armenia and continue his “mission” to overcome barriers between the Armenian people.

The country was in July rocked by a two week siege at a police station in the country’s capital, Yerevan, which left two police officers dead.

The siege, which saw armed men storm the building, demanding the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, the leader of the New Armenia Public Salvation Front opposition group, sparked demonstrations across Yerevan.

There has also been a flare up of violence in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is technically in neighbouring Azerbaijan, but is run by an ethnically Armenian goverment.

Mr Abrahamyan said that the biggest challenges facing Armenia were corruption and the economic situation, which has taken a hit in recent months.

He said he was stepping down in order to “give a chance to a new government” which he said will offer “new approaches in order to consolidate society.”

In a statement to a cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon, he said: “Our honest and realistic approaches achieved their results, but the public still remained polarised. In my opinion, one of the main reasons of that is the existing disagreements fed with geopolitical, foreign economic and military challenges.”

Armenia’s president Serge Sarkisian pledged last month create a government “of national accord” following the civil unrest last month.

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was the worst since a ceasefire was declared in 1994. A total of 30 soldiers and a boy were reported killed during violent clashes in the region in April.

Mr Sarkisian is to appoint a new prime minister within ten days, according to terms of the country’s constitution – with a new government appointed within 20 days of the appointment of the new post.

Political analysts in Armenia have named Karen Karapetyan, a former Yerevan major and top executive at the Russian gas giant Gazprom, as the likeliest successor to Abramyan.