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 and the HHK cut a power-sharing deal with one party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), in February. Dashnaktsutyun was given three ministerial portfolios in Abrahamian’s cabinet at the time.
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.