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A major opposition party contesting Yerevan’s upcoming municipal vote has again called for broader cooperation among non-government forces to prevent electoral fraud and eventually form new authorities in the Armenian capital.

Yerevan’s former mayor Vahagn Khachatrian, who heads the election list of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) party, believes that a clean vote will give the three parties and one bloc participating in the elections on a platform critical of the current authorities a chance to form a new ruling coalition and jointly take control of the city.

Vahagn Khachatrian

Vahagn Khachatrian

“The non-government forces must set themselves the task of polling a maximum number of votes together in order to have an opportunity to elect a new mayor of Yerevan. We will consider that a victory,” said Khachatrian at a press conference on Tuesday.

Other opposition groups, including Dashnaktsutyun, the newly formed Barev Yerevan bloc of parties dominated by Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage and the ‘alternative’ Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), have similarly backed the idea of cooperation before and after the elections to try to stop the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) from retaining power in Yerevan.

The HAK representative also said that negotiations were underway among opposition forces around forming a joint coordinating body similar to the one that operated during last May’s parliamentary elections to prevent electoral fraud.

The municipal vote in the Armenian capital is slated for May 5. The party or bloc that wins more than half of the vote will be allowed to have its top candidate as new mayor automatically. If there is no outright winner, the factions to be formed in the 65-member Council of Elders will take a secret ballot to elect mayor.

The HHK has been dismissive of the assumptions that any opposition party or bloc could win the election outright. The party led by President Serzh Sarkisian also doubts that any opposition consolidation after the elections could threaten the majority that it is confident of winning in the polls.

Speaking to several media last week Sarkisian voiced confidence that the HHK list topped by incumbent mayor Taron Markarian will win by a landslide and remain in power in the city for another four-year period. He went on to express a hope that the May municipal elections will be even better than last month’s presidential ballot that mainly won international praise despite being condemned by the local opposition as fraudulent.
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