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Four members of UNM quit party

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, May 27
Four members of the opposition group, the United National Movement ( UNM), quit the party, saying that they had genuine reasons for taking the step.

One part of the UNM refrained from commenting on their colleagues’ decision, while others criticized them, saying that they could not resist the pressure exercised by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The Parliamentary majority said they did not have information concerning the causes of the separation. However, majority member Gia Volski revealed his suspicions that the four former members of the UNM might unite with the opposition Free Democrats in Parliament.

Four MPs of the UNM, Zurab Japaridze, Goga Khachidze, Pavle Kublashvili and Giorgi Meladze officially confirmed their leave on May 25.

Based on the statement released by Japaridze through his Facebook page, the four will continue their fight against the current leadership of Georgia and the “real ruler” of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

They also claim that they will do their utmost to “drag the country out” from the current economic crises.

Japaridze also dispelled the statements made by his former party members concerning pressure on them, and stated that the four MPs would provide detailed information concerning the reasons of their abdication on Wednesday.

“It was an irresponsible step,” UNM MP Goka Gabashvili stated regarding the four MPs.

“It seems that Japarisdze could not carry the responsibility of the party leader,” fellow UNM MP Giga Bokeria added.

Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said there were different types of individuals within the party and he was surprised that the UNM could maintain unity until now.

The future steps of the former members of the UNM remain unclear. It is impossible for them to create a faction in parliament now as at least six MPs are required for the formation of any faction in the legislative body.

There are speculations that they might win some other UNM members over, or unite with independent MPs.

The majority member Gia Volski does not exclude the four members to unite with the Free Democrats as well.

In her exclusive interview for the Messenger leader of the non-parliamentary opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia Nino Burjanadze also forecasted such a coalition among Free Democrats, Republicans and the UNM members.

Analyst Khatuna Lagazidze believes that the exodus will weaken the UNM opposition party in parliament and empower the majority more.

The analyst also stresses that it would be harder for the Georgian Dream to attract voters for the elections in 2016, as the majority always shifted blame onto the previous leadership and one of the major goals for the authorities was fighting with the UNM.

“Now the UNM is weakening itself without the government’s interference. Thus, for the next elections the majority will not frighten the voters that the UNM might return to the office. It would be a difficult task for other parties as well to mobilize voters at ballot boxes,” Lagazidze says.