Three opposition parties will continue boycotting sessions of Vanadzor’s municipal council in protest against foul play which they say led to the election of a new pro-government mayor of Armenia’s third largest city.
The council elected in October chose Mamikon Aslanian of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) as mayor despite the fact that the HHK and its ally, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, control only 15 of its 33 seats. The 18 other seats were won by the opposition Bright Armenia, Prosperous Armenia and Armenian Revival parties.
Aslanian received 19 council votes cast in secret ballot, meaning that four opposition councilors secretly broke the ranks. It is still not clear who they are. Opposition leaders believes that they were forced to vote for the HHK candidate.
The three opposition groups last month petitioned the Armenian government to call a snap election in Vanadzor, arguing that the municipal council remains paralyzed by their boycott. The government rejected the demand.
Under Armenian law, the authorities in Yerevan must disband a local council if it fails to meet and make a quorum for six consecutive months.
Bright Armenia’s Krist Marukian, who nearly became Vanadzor mayor, said on Wednesday that the opposition will keep up the boycott for three more months in order to force a fresh local election.
“If this situation in Vanadzor is good for the ruling party and if it is not going to do anything about this situation, the three more months will pass anyway,” Marukian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The HHK and Aslanian have repeatedly criticized the opposition boycott. They insist that the controversial choice of Vanadzor’s mayor was legal.