An opposition bloc led by Raffi Hovannisian will likely take up its seats in Yerevan’s new municipal council despite considering the weekend local elections fraudulent, one of its senior members said on Tuesday.
Armen Martirosian, who topped the list of the Barev Yerevan bloc’s election candidates, stressed at the same time that it has not made a final decision yet. He said Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) needs to discuss the matter with smaller opposition groups aligned in the bloc.
“My personal view is that we must take up the Council of Elders mandates,” Martirosian told journalists. “I believe that just as Zharangutyun has been able to solve many issues related to individual citizens and social groups in the parliament, we have to work in the council as well.” He also said Barev Yerevan has a moral obligation to “disappointed citizens” that voted for the opposition.
According to the official election results, Barev Yerevan won 8.4 percent of the vote that will likely earn it 6 seats in Yerevan’s 65-seat council electing the city’s mayor. The ruling Republican Party (HHK) will most probably have 42 council seats. The remaining councilors will represent the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of businessman Gagik Tsarukian.
Like the other opposition groups, Barev Yerevan has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the HHK’s landslide victory, saying that it was achieved through vote buying, multiple voting and other irregularities.
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) made similar fraud allegations following the 2009 municipal elections in which it was the main opposition contender. The HAK refused at the time to accept its 13 mandates in the Council of Elders in protest. The party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian won no council seats this time around.
Martirosian also all but ruled out Barev Yerevan’s cooperation with the BHK in the Yerevan legislature. “Prosperous Armenia has still not declared that it is in opposition,” he said.
The two political groups have had a tense relationship, trading bitter accusations in the run-up to Sunday’s elections. Martirosian on Tuesday stood by his bloc’s allegations that Tsarukian’s party handed out vote bribes. The BHK strongly denies this.