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Yerevan Elections Offer Chance to Restore Democratic Process in Armenia
Freedom House urges the Armenian government and all political parties to ensure that municipal elections in Yerevan on Sunday adhere to international standards and produce results that reflect the will of the voters.
It will be the first significant multi-party vote since Serzh Sarkisian won last year’s disputed presidential election. The result of that election sparked allegations of vote rigging and deadly clashes between police and opposition demonstrators. Authorities arrested more than 100 people and declared a state of emergency for three weeks.
"The Yerevan municipal elections present an important opportunity to begin restoring citizens' confidence in the democratic process that should not be wasted," said Vladimir Shkolnikov, Freedom House Europe director.
Sunday's vote will mark the first time since Armenia gained independence that Yerevan’s mayor will be chosen by voters, instead of being appointed by the president. The election will be closely watched by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which froze part of its $236 million aid package to Armenia after last year’s elections and is currently reviewing whether "democratic governance" issues in the country have improved.
Seven parties are running candidates in the Yerevan mayoral election. The leading candidates include incumbent mayor Gagik Beklarian of the Republican Party and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who is representing the opposition Armenian National Congress. Ter-Petrosian was President Sarkisian’s main competition in last year's presidential election.
Armenia is not considered an electoral democracy, with elections since the 1990s marred by serious irregularities. The country is ranked Partly Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in 2009 version of Freedom of the Press.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Armenia since 1991.
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