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Ruling Party Looks To Tighten Grip On Local Government


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (C) talks to voters on an election campaign trip to Aragatsotn province, 20Apr2012.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (C) talks to voters on an election campaign trip to Aragatsotn province, 20Apr2012.

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) intends to widen its control of most local government bodies across the country as a result of upcoming elections, one of its leaders said on Wednesday.

Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of the HHK, said President Serzh Sarkisian’s party expects to win about 70 percent of mayoral posts and seats on municipal and village councils that will be up for grabs this summer and September.

“We will be participating [in the elections] very actively and our candidates will run in all places,” Sahakian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I think that we will increase our presence [in local government] after the autumn elections,” he said.

The most important of the local polls will take place in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri and a dozen major towns on September 9. The HHK’s main challenger is expected to be the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), its former junior partner in the governing coalition.

The race in Gyumri promises to be particularly tight. The BHK prevailed there in the May 6 parliamentary elections and will be looking to unseat the city’s HHK-affiliated incumbent mayor, Vartan Ghukasian.

Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK figure, said the party will contest the nationwide elections “very actively.” “We are now monitoring the communities where elections will take place in order to see where we should field [electable] candidates,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

For its part, the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) reaffirmed its readiness to endorse election candidates nominated by the BHK and other opposition groups. Levon Zurabian’s, the bloc’s coordinator, said the HAK expects similar support for its own candidates.

The HAK and the BHK jointly monitored the conduct of the May parliamentary elections. They as well as the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) rejected as illegitimate the official vote results that gave a landslide victory to the ruling HHK.
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