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Sarkisian Again Lauds Yerevan Polls


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian speaks at the inauguration of Yerevan's new mayor, Gagik Beglarian, on 11Jun2009

President Serzh Sarkisian insisted on Thursday that the May 31 elections in Yerevan marked a significant step forward in Armenia’s democratization as one of his top allies, Gagik Beglarian, was sworn in as the city’s new mayor.

The inauguration ceremony took place at a special session of Yerevan’s newly elected municipal less than a week after the Central Election Commission (CEC) released the final results of the polls. According to them, Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) won 47.4 percent of the vote, giving it 35 of the 65 seats in the Council of Elders.

Under Armenian law, the top candidate of a party or bloc winning more than 40 percent of the vote shall automatically become mayor. Beglarian, who headed the HHK’s electoral list and has run the Yerevan municipality since March, was thus declared mayor by the municipal council on Monday.

Armenia’s main opposition groups have rejected the official vote results, alleging widespread fraud. The largest of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) has refused to take up its 13 seats in the 65-member council.

Armenia -- Gagik Beglarian is sworn in as new mayor of Yerevan on 11Jun2009
Beglarian accepted a mayoral necklace from one of the councilors and took an oath of office in the presence of President Sarkisian, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, and other dignitaries. Putting his right hand on a law on local self-governance in Yerevan enacted last December, he pledged to respect Armenia’s constitution, laws and decisions taken by the Council of Elders.

“I wish you to live up to the expectations and hopes of the voters and not let down your supporters and us in the first instance,” Sarkisian said in an ensuing speech. He noted that Beglarian will have “much fewer levers to make decisions single-handedly” than his presidentially appointed predecessors had.

“But that doesn’t mean that the mayor’s role and share of responsibility will decrease,” continued Sarkisian. “And for that we, Yerevan residents, expect a new work style.”

That, according to the president, means fulfilling “every pledge,” respecting laws, and “loving Yerevan residents with heart and soul.” “I believe that Mr. Beglarian can be such a mayor,” he said.

Sarkisian further stated that the May 31 polls showed that the Armenian authorities “can and must organize good elections in which vicious phenomena will be rooted out one by one.” He said they must therefore ensure that future elections are judged by Armenians and the international community to “greatly or fully correspondent to international standards.”

“The constitutional right to form a government by means of elections must become an undisputed principle in our value system,” he added.
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