YEREVAN -- Campaigning has officially begun for the first mayoral elections in Yerevan in nearly two decades, another potentially tense showdown between Armenia's leadership and the opposition, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Residents of the Armenian capital on May 31 will elect a municipal assembly empowered to choose the city's next mayor.
City leaders were previously appointed by Armenia's president ever since the country adopted its post-Soviet constitution in 1995.
Campaigning began on May 2 after the Central Election Commission formally registered six parties and one alliance for the election.
Parties must win at least 7 percent of the vote to gain representation in the assembly, while the alliance must win 9 percent to gain seats.
A party or bloc getting more than 40 percent of the vote could single-handedly appoint the next mayor.
Mayor Gagik Beglarian heads President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia list, while his main contenders are Harutiun Kushkian of the Prosperous Armenia Party, Heghine Bisharian of Orinats Yerkir, and opposition candidates Artsvik Minasian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and former President Levon Ter-Petrossian of the Armenian National Congress.