Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian on Monday expressed confidence that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) will retain control of the municipal administration in next month’s elections.
Markarian claimed that ordinary Yerevan residents attending his campaign gatherings are already speaking of the HHK’s strong chances of again winning a majority in the city’s Council of Elders empowered to elect Yerevan mayors.
“I am confident that on May 5 the people of Yerevan will vote for a better Yerevan,” he said, referring to the HHK’s campaign motto in the mayoral race.
The mayor spoke to journalists during a campaign rally held in the city’s western Ajapnyak district. Arman Sahakian, head of an Armenian government agency in charge of privatization, attended it along with other senior HHK figures.
“We will naturally not hand over Yerevan,” Sahakian told journalists. “Do you doubt that? Do not doubt.”
Under Armenian law, the top candidate of a party or bloc winning more than 40 percent of the vote shall automatically become mayor. The HHK’s electoral list is headed by Markarian.
According to the official results, the ruling party won 47.4 percent of the vote in the last municipal elections, giving it 35 of the 65 seats in the Council of Elders. Armenia’s main opposition groups rejected the results as fraudulent. The then largest of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), refused to take up its 13 seats in the 65-member council in protest.
HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian stressed the importance of the May 5 elections in a speech delivered at the weekend. Ter-Petrosian said the Armenian opposition will be mounting a direct challenge against President Serzh Sarkisian, the top HHK leader. He dismissed Markarian as a “puppet of the system.”
The Republican mayor, who will turn 35 on Wednesday, hit back at that characterization. “Let every person speak about themselves and look at themselves in the mirror first,” he said.
Markarian also rejected HAK allegations that the Yerevan municipality and he personally are mired in corruption. “It’s simply shameful,” he said. “If there are such things, let them appeal to law-enforcement bodies.”