By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
Voters in Nagorno-Karabakh will choose new bodies of local government on September 5, the second such elections in the last ten years. At stake will be posts of mayor and legislative seats in 209 towns and villages across the self-proclaimed republic.
The authorities set the date of the polls over the weekend, after months of unsuccessful attempts to reclaim their right to appoint heads of local administrations. The Karabakh parliament has rejected a government bill that would have abrogated the existing law on local government.
As in the previous elections, held in September 1998, the toughest race is expected for the top executive post in the capital Stepanakert. The local branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the main opposition group in Karabakh, will try to unseat the city’s present acting mayor, Boris Arushanian. Arushanian is an ally of NKR President Arkady Ghukasian and is likely to be backed by the pro-government Democratic Artsakh Union (ZhAM) party which controls the parliament.
Arushanian was named to replace the previous Stepanakert mayor, Karen Babayan, who was arrested and ousted from his post last year on suspicion of involvement in the March 2000 attempt on Ghukasian. His once powerful brother, former army commander Samvel Babayan, was sentenced to 14 years in prison last February on charges of masterminding the attack.