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WASHINGTON — The New York Times abruptly replaced its executive editor, Jill Abramson, on Wednesday, ending what had been a sometimes stormy 32-month tenure by the first woman to lead the prestigious newspaper in its 163-year history.

The Times said Abramson will be succeeded by her top deputy, Dean Baquet, the managing editor.

Abramson, who worked in Washington for The Wall Street Journal and later was the Times’ Washington bureau chief, apparently was fired by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of the New York Times Co. and publisher of the paper.

In remarks to the newspaper’s journalists disclosing the management change, Sulzberger never explicitly said Abramson, 60, had been terminated. But he made no effort to suggest that she was leaving of her own accord. He said he chose ‘‘to appoint a new leader for our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom.’’

He added, ‘‘You will understand that there is nothing more I am going to say about this, but I want to assure all of you that there is nothing more at issue here.’’

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In its coverage of the change, the Times said that Abramson had been ‘‘dismissed.’’ She did not appear at the newsroom meeting at which her departure was announced. The Times said she and Baquet weren’t giving interviews.

Baquet, 57, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, will be the first African-American executive editor of the Times. In a news release, he said, ‘‘It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago, one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day.’’

Abramson and Baquet had reportedly clashed over the newspaper’s daily direction and management. Some at the Times have been privately critical of Abramson’s management style, which they regarded as aloof, and her personnel appointments, which favored younger journalists over more experienced Times veterans.

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People at the paper said Abramson and Sulzberger had clashed recently, too, but it was unclear what their differences were.

Another factor, they said, was Abramson’s souring relationship with Mark Thompson, the chief executive of the Times Co. and a former journalist at the BBC whom Sulzberger recruited to the company in 2012.

Despite the internal turbulence, the decision to replace Abramson shocked many at the Times and elsewhere. ‘‘Everyone gob-smacked in NYT newsroom over Jill Abramson leaving and Dean Baquet taking over,’’ tweeted Times arts reporter Patricia Cohen not long after the news broke.

In a statement released by the Times, Abramson said, ‘‘I’ve loved my run at The Times. I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism.’’