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Ugulava finally adopted

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, April 27
On April 26 the ruling United National Movement (UNM) officially nominated Gigi Ugulava, the current Mayor of Tbilisi, as its candidate for the Mayoral elections on May 30. Ugulava launched his campaign under the slogan There is Still Much to be Done and said he wanted to resolve the problems of Tbilisi citizens with their engagement.

“As the official candidate of the UNM I’m going to study all the problems of Tbilisi citizens [until the elections] by holding continual meetings with them. I will try to provide them with all the information they need about our plans which are based on what we [UNM] have been doing for so long. Each promise of ours will be modest but businesslike because employment, stability, a safe environment and development are the most important priorities for each of us nowadays,” Ugulava said after officially submitting his candidacy at the Central Election Commission (CEC), supported by his party members. “I will do my best to listen to each and every citizen and share their concerns in order to get the energy from them which we, the ruling party members, need to turn their trust into welfare. Lots of projects have been successfully launched in Tbilisi, but there is still much to do in our city and all our promises are realistic,” Ugulava added.

President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili [who is still on his visit to the US] encouraged the Georgian people to support Ugulava’s candidacy. “I don’t want anyone in Tbilisi to be subject to any political bias. But those who are proud of their city and want to live in one of the most comfortable and beautiful cities in Europe have to support the UNM candidate,” Saakashvili said, hoping that the “wise Georgian population” is aware of the progress being made in the social field as well as employment and will make the right decision. Davit Bakradze, Chairman of Parliament called Ugulava “a politician which can manage everything” and stressed that during Ugulava’s period Tbilisi has become a better city than ever before and Ugulava’s nomination as the UNM candidate is a step towards the implementation of all the projects planned for Tbilisi.

Later the same day Ugulava addressed his supporters and explained the need for unity. “It is important for us to now focus on the most important part of our city – which is you, the citizens of Tbilisi, and I promise you that we will have a better city in the next 4 years. Tbilisi needs an attentive Mayor who thinks of its people. Let us fight for a better future together,” he said.

Opposition representatives have commented on Ugulava's official nomination. Gia Tortladze, Chair of the faction Strong Georgia, said that there was nothing unexpected about the nomination and that lots of things do indeed still need to be done besides all the positive projects Ugulava has already undertaken as Mayor. Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), said that “There is still much to spoil, but we CDM members won’t give anyone from the UNM team an opportunity to do so,” regretting that Tbilisi has become a city full of social problems lacking fresh air. “A serious campaign aimed at defeating the Government will be launched today. But unfortunately the ruling party seems to be so proud of its projects that it didn’t even change the Mayoral candidate,” Inga Grigolia, member of the CDM and candidate for the Head of City Council told the media.

Zviad Dzidziguri, the National Council Mayoral Candidate, said that the voters will have an opportunity to change the situation in the country by supporting any of the opposition candidates on May 30. “The Saakashvili-Ugulava alliance can be easily dealt with if the public says “no” to the Government. Ugulava has been trying hard to persuade the public for the last couple of years and thus has a better starting position that any of the opposition candidates but I would like to encourage Tbilisi citizens to vote for the opposition in order to end Saakashvili’s regime,” Dzidziguri said, confident in the opposition’s victory at the elections.

Davit Gamkrelidze, co-leader of Alliance for Georgia, approved of the UNM’s slogan but doubted in the fulfillment of the promises made by Ugulava in his election campaign. “I don’t think that this slogan will mislead people as how the ruling party usually does things is common knowledge,” Gamkrelidze said, stressing that the deferment of Ugulava’s official nomination was a UNM plan which has enabled Ugulava to misuse more adminiatrative resources.

The UNM has given a 68-member candidate list to the CEC, including the 25 first-past-the-post seat candidates who will fight for seats in Tbilisi City Hall on the same day. The list is led by Zaal Samadashvili, current Chairman of the City Council, who is followed by Koki Ionatamishvili, former Chair of New Generation - New Initiative, Mariam Didebulidze, Director of the Giorgi Chubinashvili National Research Centre for Georgian Art History and Monument Preservation. The members of the UNM say that their candidates will conduct the most efficient campaign and will follow all the policies of the ruling party within the capital. Pavle Kublashvili, a UNM MP, said that the ruling party has presented a team of people who have done lots of things for Tbilisi over the last several years. “The UNM team is known to the public for its good work. This very team is ready to continue successfully resolving the remaining problems alongside new faces supported by the people,” Kublashvili noted. Zurab Melikishvili, the Secretary General of the ruling party, also expressed his trust in the candidates on the list.

Zaal Samadashvili, current Chairman of the City Council and the candidate for the Isani District told the media that “I have gained important experience while dealing with issues concerning the city which I will definitely use in my future activities [at the City Council]. I will do my best to make people’s lives better in Tbilisi.” Zaza Sinauridze, UNM candidate for the Central Saburtalo District said that “I chose to participate in the elections after consulting Gigi Ugulava. We came to the decision to engage professionals to deal with the problems of our city. I am not a politician but a doctor, with 25 years experience in this field, and therefore one of the burning issues I will promote if I win will be healthcare.” Mariam Didebulidze said that she would encourage the more effective resolution of problems connected with defence and the rehabilitation of the city’s cultural heritage.