By Armen Zakarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian confirmed on Friday that his government will not introduce direct elections of Yerevan’s mayor by a majority of city residents if it succeeds in amending Armenia’s constitution.
Markarian said the Armenian authorities would instead make sure that mayor is chosen by an elected municipal council.
“In this transitional period we are more inclined to have a Yerevan council that will elect a mayor from among its members,” he told representatives of an association uniting members of legislative councils of local governments across Armenia. He said the currently elected heads of the city’s ten administrative districts would be appointed by the mayor as a result.
Under existing constitution, the mayor of Yerevan, which is home to at least one third of Armenia’s population, is appointed by the president of the republic and can be dismissed by the latter at will. The authorities want to change this provision. But one of the amendments proposed by them would only guarantee the mayor’s election by the presently non-existent municipal council. Experts from the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe said in a report last month that the indirect election is “legitimate” under the European Charter on Local Self-Government.
However, direct mayoral elections in Yerevan is one of the opposition Artarutyun alliance’s three conditions for supporting the constitutional referendum. Markarian’s comments suggest that it is unlikely to be met.