By Heghine Buniatian
Citizens in three communities of Armenia mostly expressed their distrust towards incumbent leaders by not returning them to their offices in Sunday’s local elections.
By preliminary returns, Ashtarak’s mayor Ashot Ghalajian received about twice as few votes as his rival Gagik Tamazian (Republican Party of Armenia, HHK).
In the regional center of Gegharkunik, Gavar, the incumbent mayor yielded his post to United Labor Party representative Gurgen Martirosian.
By the data of the Central Election Commission, a new mayor was elected also in Chambarak.
In Sunday’s elections Republicans mostly lost to another wing of the coalition – Orinats Yerkir.
In Gyumri, incumbent mayor Vartan Ghukasian backed by Orinats Yerkir defeated HHK’s Martin Sukiasian with a margin of about 5,000 votes.
Sukiasian’s supporters are convinced that the majority of Gyumri residents were ready to cast their votes for their candidate, but were simply deprived of this right due to widespread inaccuracies in voter lists.
Sukiasian’s campaign manager Mikael Vartanian told RFE/RL they got acquainted with the updated voter lists only a few hours before the start of the elections. He claimed that the new lists essentially differed from the ones they had verified as correct earlier.
As a result, according to Vartanian, a majority of citizens did not find their names in the updated lists and simply could not participate in the ballot.
Sukiasian has already lodged a complaint with the Territorial Election Commission protesting the outcome of the election and claiming that the elections passed amid brawls in certain precincts and with widespread distribution of electoral bribes.
The Commission, however, said the complaint was likely to be rejected as it did not immediately concern its work.
Elections in Gavar were also marred by reported widespread distribution of cash and flour among voters.
In the end, Gurgen Martirosian, known in the town to have ties with the underworld, won the five-candidate contest.
His main rival Hrach Zakoyan, however, told RFE/RL that he has no intention to protest the election outcome.
In the town of Sevan there was only one candidate – incumbent mayor Gevorg Malkhasian (HHK). According to the preliminary returns, he has been reelected.
Because of the self-withdrawal of three candidates in the town of Aparan, elections there will be held at a later date.