By Astghik Bedevian and Tatevik Lazarian
The governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has nominated candidate for the post of Yerevan mayor to be chosen as a result of the May 31 elections of the first municipal assembly in over a decade.
The mayors of the Armenian capital have until now been appointed by the president of the republic. They will now be picked by the municipal assembly to be elected under the system of proportional representation.
The HHK announced that on Saturday Gagik Beglarian, chief executive of the city’s central Kentron district, will top the list of its candidates in the upcoming elections and thus be its mayoral candidate. Eduard Sharmazanov, a party spokesman, said the HHK leadership approved Beglarian’s candidacy unanimously.
A government source told RFE/RL on Monday that Sarkisian will appoint Beglarian as Yerevan mayor even before the polls. The source said a corresponding presidential decree will likely be signed this week.
The Armenian president’s press service declined to confirm or refute this. “I have no such information,” Sharmazanov said for his part.
Still, Aram Harutiunian, an aide to Beglarian, told RFE/RL that the information about the Kentron mayor’s appointment is “probably not unfounded.”
The HHK, which is led by President Sarkisian, also confirmed that it will contest the municipal vote 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.
The election is also expected to be contested by the country’s two main opposition forces, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party. They are due to negotiate over the possibility of fielding a joint list of candidates.
(Photolur photo: Current Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharian, left, and Gagik Beglarian.)