YEREVAN — Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian has submitted his resignation on July 9 after weeks of speculations when reports surfaced about his unreported wealth and abuses in the municipality.
Markarian announced his resignation in a short written address to the city’s residents. He gave no reasons for the widely anticipated move.
“Throughout my term in office, I tried to hear the voice of each of you and solve the problems of the capital step by step. I was true to my promise and my programs,” said Markarian in a statement addressed to Yerevan residents.
He also thanked members of the Yerevan Council of Elders, the heads of administrative districts of the capital, partner organizations and individuals for joint work.
Markarian was elected mayor of the Armenian capital by the Council of Elders in 2011 after the resignation of Karen Karapetian. He was reelected in 2013 and 2017. He joined the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in 1996.
Members of PM Nikol Pashinian’s Yelk alliance sitting on the HHK-controlled council have since repeatedly demanded Markarian’s resignation, accusing him of corruption and mismanagement. They have argued, in particular, that he has made a big personal fortune while in office.
Markarian rejected calls for his resignation until now, arguing that the HHK won the last municipal elections held in May 2017. He was the party’s mayoral candidate in those polls.
The pressure on Markarian grew in mid-June when the National Security Service (NSS) searched the offices of a municipal fund supervised by him. The Yerevan Fund’s executive director and another municipal official were detained on suspicion of extorting hefty payments to the charity from individuals seeking construction permits from the mayor’s office.
Under a law on local self-government in Yerevan, the city council has to elect a new mayor within a month. It is not yet clear whether the HHK majority in the council will nominate a mayoral candidate.
During the snap elections, the right to nominate candidates for the Mayor belongs to the City Council’s factions.