Armenian president names speaker as new prime minister

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan appointed parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamyan as the ex-Soviet republic’s new prime minister on Sunday, replacing a six-year veteran who resigned after protests against his pension reform.

Former reformist Prime Minister Tigran Sarksyan, who was central bank governor before taking over the government in 2008, stepped down earlier this month after the pension protests and a court ruling declaring part of the reform unconstitutional.

“I’m sure that everyone will understand very quickly that Armenia has a very effective new prime minister,” President Sargsyan told his ruling Republican Party after announcing Abrahamyan’s appointment.

“I will do my best to help Mr. Abrahamyan to reach this goal,” he said. The new prime minister does not need to be confirmed by parliament.

Abrahamyan, 56, who is the president’s deputy in the Republican Party and an economist by training, had been parliamentary speaker since 2008.

Former Prime Minister Sarksyan is expected to take up a diplomatic post, the Republican Party spokesman said.

The economy of the former Soviet republic, which is heavily dependent on Russia, averaged rapid annual growth of 12 percent from 2000 to 2007 but shrank by more than 14 percent in 2009 after the global crisis hit. It grew by 3.2 percent last year.

Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Tom Heneghan