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Unity of National Movement in question

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, May 29
The unity of the oppositional United National Movement (UNM) is in question. Various key members of the party have criticized one another as of late and in addition, the arrest of the UNM’s prominent Secretary General, Vano Merabishvili, has accelerated this process.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s UNM looks very much similar to the Citizen’s Union – the party united around former President Eduard Shevardnadze. The major incentive for unity for both of these parties was to have their charismatic leaders as president. In both cases the leading party members were united in their quest for this power.

Essentially their members had different ideologies and in reality they were ready to compete with one another for having more power.

As soon as Shevardnadze was forced to resign, his Citizen’s Union disappeared.

Now it is President Saakashvili’s turn to step down from his position. Although the UNM has been highlighting its unity since last year’s Parliamentary Election, the tendency of its possible disappearance from the political arena is high. In particular, the situation became chaotic after the detention of Secretary General Merabishvili.

The UNM is facing serious challenges as its members are constantly losing key positions throughout the country.

The process started since about six months ago. However from April, 2013, it became more visible. On April 16 the former leader of the Constitutional Safety Department, Data Akhalaia, accused UNM Secretary General Merabishvili in allegedly launching an attack against the Akhalaia family, which finally led to the detention of former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia while Data Akhalaia had to leave the country. There were some other facts as well, but Merabishvili’s arrest accelerated the process.

On May 21, the Editor in Chief of Tabula magazine and the wife of Giga Bokeria, Secretary of National Security Council, criticized Mikheil Saakashvili. On May 24, Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava also criticized Saakashvili. It can be predicted that eventually Bokeria will also be against Saakashvili. However, he is currently in the US and nobody knows what he is doing there.

The major issue for the UNM now remains who will be their candidate for the presidency. Almost every analyst is confident that whoever this candidate will be, he is doomed to failure this fall.

Many thought that Merabishvili would be the UNM’s best candidate. However, his detention has put this idea under the question. As analysts suggest, by the time the Presidential Election is held in Georgia, the subtle unity of the United National Movement will have ended.