Coalition Parties to Go it Alone in Yerevan Election

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The four parties represented in Armenia’s governing coalition will separately contest the upcoming municipal elections in Yerevan, representatives of the parties said Friday during a session of the National Assembly.

Residents of Yerevan will go to the polls on May 31 to elect a municipal assembly that will choose the city’s new mayor and oversee the work of the municipal administration.

The Armenian capital has until now been governed by officials appointed by the president of the republic. It’s one million or so residents have only been able to elect the chief executives of the city’s ten administrative districts along with their “councils of elders.”

No details were presented on the candidates each party would put forth for mayor, saying only that full lists of candidates would be publicized sometime next week. The governing coalition is composed of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Prosperous Armenia, The Republic Party of Armenia, and Country of Law.

Prosperous Armenia did say, however, that it will not nominate party head, Gagik Tsarukyan, explaining that the oligarch-turned-politician does not want desire the position. Tsarukyan also fails to meet the minimum requiremen’s to enter into the race as a candidate, as he has not been a registered resident of Yerevan for the three years.

Meanwhile, the head of the Republic Party’s faction in parliament, Galust Sahakian, said his party is currently considering several candidates. He noted that incumbent Mayor Yervand Zakharyan is a possibility.

“From the political standpoint, I think that if you have a strong team you should go it alone,” Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, told RFE/RL on Monday.

Sahakian said the Republican Party feels strong enough to win the majority of seats in the municipal council and install a Republican mayor. He said the ruling party is likely to nominate the incumbent Mayor Yervand Zakharian or the head of the city’s central administrative district, Gagik Beglarian, for the post. “Of course, other people are also being considered, but we are leaning towards these two persons,” added Sahakian.

Ruben Markarian, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said Monday the party is also unlikely to form electoral alliances. The ARF has yet to pick its mayoral candidate, he said.

On the opposition side, the Heritage party of Raffi Hovannisian has confirmed its participation in the May 31 vote. “We will participate in the elections unless something extraordinary happens,” said Armen Martirosian, the nominal leader of the party’s parliament faction.

Martirosian said Friday that Heritage would nominate Stepan Demirchyan, the head of the People’s Party of Armenia.

“At this point there is no reason to insist that we will be running separately,” he said. “On the contrary, negotiations are underway on running in the elections with a united candidate. Thus, together we will be able to achieve our objectives, which are the same for both the Armenian National Congress and the Heritage.”

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