Armenia’s ruling party says it has reached a deal with one of the opposition parties in the city of Vanadzor that it hopes will end the deadlock in the work of a local municipal council.
The Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its junior coalition partner, Dashnaktsutyun, have a minority in the body formed as a result of October 2016 elections.
The council elected HHK candidate Mamikon Aslanian mayor of the country’s third largest city despite the fact that they 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 believe that they were forced to vote for the HHK candidate.
Since that ballot all 18 opposition councilors have been boycotting sessions of the Vanadzor legislature. But despite the lack of quorum, the 15 other, pro-government councilors have held sessions of the council and adopted decisions on its behalf since March. The Vanadzor municipality has insisted that those decisions are valid, citing an article of Armenia’s Law on Local Self-Government.
By its November 10 ruling Armenia’s Constitutional Court, however, backed the opposition claim that the article is unconstitutional and effectively gave until March 31, 2018 to redress the situation.
Edmon Marukian, an opposition lawmaker and leader of the Bright Armenia party, said the only way to comply with the Court’s ruling was holding new elections in the city.
In a new development over the weekend the Vanadzor chapters of the HHK and the Armenian Revival Party, which has five mandates in the local municipal council, have signed a memorandum of cooperation to share responsibility for the work of the city’s legislature, which will now give the HHK a majority of votes in the body and an opportunity to formalize its rule.
Vanadzor Mayor Aslanian said in a Facebook post on Saturday that Armenian Revival’s local chapter leader Arkady Peleshian, who is also head of the party’s faction in the municipal council, responded to his call for an end to the boycott and shared government.
Peleshian and other members of the Armenian Revival Party were not available for a comment immediately.
A special session of the council is scheduled for November 21 when the body is reportedly due to consider installing Peleshian as first deputy mayor.
Earlier, Bright Armenia leader Marukian said that the Vanadzor municipal council must be dissolved and new elections must be held because the body has not functioned for a year. Aslanian and his team, however, do not agree with this view.