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Saakashvili initiates rebranding of the UNM

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, August 5
President Mikheil Saakashvili called on the United National Movement (UNM) to hold a congress session in September to start the fundamental changes. In his statement made on August 2nd, the president congratulated Davit Bakradze on the victory in the primary elections and said the UNM should now rally like never before around a common candidate, because this is an issue on which Georgia’s progress will largely depend. “We have a very good candidate and he needs very serious support,” Saakashvili said, stressing that holding of “the first-ever democratic primaries in the history of Georgia” contributed to an increase of the country’s “political culture.”

Saakashvili said the process of returning the former ruling team with renewed energy is underway, thus, he said the UNM will be able to end it with success. “After all those years we have learned a lot, been through many fights and wars, we have made many mistakes, but have seen many great successes too,” he stated.

Stressing that the team is now going through a necessary stage of critical analysis and renewal, he said they also need to introduce changes, “not forgetting about the main principles, and create a healthier, more democratic and open organization.”

“Therefore, I propose that the UNM take another step. We have to be the party that, on the one hand, will be a generator of ideas and on the other– will turn these ideas into a subject for public discussion," Saakashvili said.

A party board will be formatted this fall. UNM members Goka Gabashvili and Givi Targamadze share Saakashvili’s position stressing his appeal was necessary and timely. Vano Merabishvili will retain the position of Secretary General, but this position is an honorable status and organizational matters will be decided by the Executive Secretary, who will be elected by the board members.

Parliamentary Chairperson Davit Usupashvili responded to the President's statement. He believes that the rebranding of the UNM would be futile. “Georgian people have already seen such rebranding when the same people, with the same values, the same problems, continued to act under a different name,” Usupashvili referred to the former president, Eduard Shevardnadze’s Citizens’ Union the member of which was Saakashvili and several other UNM members.