Zaruhi Postanjian, one of the two opposition candidates in the upcoming mayoral elections in Yerevan, on Friday urged voters to help her end Republican Party (HHK) rule in Armenia which she denounced as a “dictatorship.”
“It’s not possible to liver under HHK dictatorship anymore,” Postanjian said in a pre-recorded message played on loudspeakers placed on a van touring the city’s northern Nor Nork district.
“We have to form a [new] government. We are starting the liberation from Yerevan,” she declared.
A group of activists of Postanjian’s Yerkir Tsirani party also blasted the HHK-controlled central and municipal governments as they campaigned in Nor Nork in person. “Without political changes there can be no real economic changes in the country,” one of them, Hayk Petrosian, said.
Petrosian and several dozen other Yerkir Tsirani candidates led by Postanjian are running for a new municipal council that will be elected by popular vote on May 14. The council will pick the city mayor.
The HHK leadership has nominated the incumbent Mayor Taron Markarian for reelection. Accordingly, Markarian tops the ruling party’s list of candidates in the municipal polls.
HHK leaders have expressed confidence that they will retain control over the municipal administration. Markarian, 38, claims to have largely delivered on his campaign promises given four years ago. He says that Yerevan now has more green areas, well-lit streets and refurbished neighborhood courtyards.
Postanjian and the other opposition candidate, Nikol Pashinian of the Yelk alliance, have harshly criticized Markarian’s track record, however, singling out the poor state of public transportation in the city. They have also alleged widespread corruption within the Mayor’s Office.
Accompanied by other senior Yelk figures, Pashinian took his house-to-house campaign to other parts of Yerevan on Friday. “We have come here to tell you that we will be counting on you in the May 14 elections and hope that you will make a decision that will mean a victory for the people,” he said through a megaphone in a courtyard surrounded by Soviet-era apartment blocks.
“You can rely on us in replacing this clan-based and corrupt rule in the capital by the people’s rule,” added the 41-year-old former journalist.
Yelk finished third in Armenia’s April 2 parliamentary elections, winning about 8 percent of the vote. Yerkir Tsirani did not participate in those elections.
Postanjian set up the party in March shortly after splitting from Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party. She has represented Zharangutyun in parliament for the past ten years.
Postanjian’s tough anti-government rhetoric resonated with some voters in Nor Nork. “She’s been doing very good things for the people and should be accepted,” said one woman. “I may vote for her.”
But other local residents were more skeptical. As one of them told RFE/RL’s Armenian service, “We already know that Taron is elected. What is this fuss all about?”