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Armenian Capital Elects New Mayor

Newly elected Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian on November 15
YEREVAN -- Taron Markarian, the son of the late Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, has been unanimously elected Yerevan's new mayor by the government-controlled municipal assembly, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

President Serzh Sarkisian nominated Markarian, 33, for the vacant post late last month. Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which has a solid majority in the city's Council of Elders, promptly endorsed the move.

The previous mayor, Karen Karapetian, stepped down unexpectedly last month.

Some analysts have attributed Karapetian's resignation and those of other senior officials recently to Sarkisian's desire to strengthen his position ahead of parliamentary elections in May.

A senior member of the HHK, Taron Markarian began his political career in 2005 when he was elected mayor of Yerevan's northern Avan district at the age of 27. His father, who died of heart failure in office in 2007, was prime minister and HHK chairman at the time.

Taron Markarian's name was high on the list of HHK candidates in the May 2009 municipal elections, which the ruling party won by a landslide, triggering opposition allegations of fraud. He was elected deputy mayor after the vote.

Speaking to journalists after his election, Markarian vowed to perform his duties "with great care."

"The system of local government is dear to my heart," Markarian said.

Markarian indicated he plans to continue his predecessor's controversial policy of closing and dismantling kiosks across the Armenian capital. He said he will seek a negotiated settlement with the owners of large kiosks that still remain in the city center.

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