By Artem Chernamorian in Gyumri
The pro-presidential mayor of Armenia’s second-largest city of Gyumri, Vartan Ghukasian, has been overwhelmingly reelected for another three-year term in office, according to preliminary results of Sunday’s local elections.
The official figures released on Monday show that Ghukasian, a staunch supporter of President Robert Kocharian, won 75 percent of the vote -- much more than his two main challengers. Levon Galstian of the opposition Fatherland and Honor party and independent candidate Martin Zulfumian polled about 12.4 percent each.
Although Galstian claimed that “numerous irregularities” were registered during the voting, the local election commission received no formal complaints from any of the candidates. Galstian also blamed his poor showing on the refusal of several major opposition parties to back his candidacy.
“They would now be very wrong to hope to do well in the upcoming presidential elections,” he told RFE/RL.
Several opposition parties operating Gyumri had initially put forward Marzpetuni Markarian, a local leader of Artashes Geghamian’s National Unity party, as their joint candidate for the post of mayor. However, Markarian unexpectedly dropped out of the campaign after being offered a senior post in the local provincial administration.
Some small opposition parties later decided to nominate a new candidate. However, bigger groups such as Hanrapetutyun and the People’s Party (HZhK) never agreed to lend their support to Galstian, a retired senior police officer.