YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Serzh Sarkisian replaced Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharian by another loyalist on Wednesday in a move apparently aimed at helping his Republican Party of Armenia win the upcoming elections of the first municipal council in over a decade.
Under a recently passed law, the assembly will have the exclusive authority to appoint Yerevan mayors. That has until now been the prerogative of the president of the republic.
Zakharian’s replacement, Gagik Beglarian, was chosen by the Republican leadership on Saturday to lead the list of the party’s candidates in the elections scheduled for May 31. That means he will be re-appointed as Yerevan mayor if the Republicans wins the majority of 65 seats in the assembly.
Beglarian has served as the elected chief executive of the city’s central administrative district for the past six years. He has been a staunch supporter of Sarkisian and former President Robert Kocharian.
The Republican board, headed by Sarkisian, confirmed on Saturday that it will contest the polls without forming an alliance with any of its three junior partners in the governing coalition. Those parties have yet to nominate candidates for the post of mayor.