Gazprom executive Karen Karapetyan named as Armenian PM

September 13, 2016 8:53 AM EDT

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YEREVAN (Reuters) - Energy executive Karen Karapetyan was named prime minister of Armenia on Tuesday, a week after the abrupt resignation of his predecessor.

Hovik Abrahamyan stepped down on Sept. 8, saying the Caucasus country needed fresh policies, after his government struggled with an economic slowdown and protests in the capital.

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

Karapetyan, 53, is a former head of national gas distributing company ArmRosGazprom, and was mayor of the capital Yerevan from 2010-2011.

He was deputy CEO of Russian gas producer Gazprom's Mezhregiongaz unit before Tuesday's appointment.

Armenia, a tiny mountainous nation which borders Turkey and Iran, will hold a parliamentary election next year. President Serzh Sargsyan's term in office is due to end in 2018, marking the nation's transition from a semi-presidential republic to a fully parliamentary system.

(Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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