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Free Democrats collapse

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, October 12
The leaders of the Free Democrats opposition have announced that they will quit their party and stressed they intended to serve Georgia in other fields.

Neither the party leader, Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, nor the country’s ex-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili, said where they intended to continue their careers.

The local media speculates that Viktor Dolidze, who was in the diplomatic service of Georgia, and two former lawmakers from the party, Zurab Abashidze and Gia Tsagareishvili, have also quit the party.

Alasania said the party would renovate and re- brand itself without him and be fully prepared for the 2017 local government elections. He also removed his candidacy as an eastern Gori majoritarian candidate and said he would not attempt to fulfill the promises given to the people, as his promises were linked with his team-members activities in Parliament.

The Free Democrats gained only 4.61 % of votes and thus could not overcome the necessary 5% threshold to win seats in the legislative body.

Alasania, who is Georgia’s ex-Ambassador to the United Nations, opposed then-President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008 and established the Free Democrats party in 2009.

The party became a member of the Georgian Dream coalition, established by billionaire and ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvilli prior to the 2012 Parliamentary Elections.

Through the previous elections, the coalition defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement party established by Saakashvili, and Alasania was appointed as the Minister of Defence after the elections until fired from the post in November 2014.

In November 2014, several members of the Defence Ministry were arrested for misspending of budgetary funds. Alasania claimed the people were innocent and they were detained because of him, as at that time he was on the verge of signing a deal with France on the purchase of air-defense weapons.

Alasania stressed that Ivanishvili did not want the deal made and artificially created problems for him. Alasania also said Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic orientation was at risk, and this statement was used as a reason for his firing by ex-Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

Later, Georgia's Ministry of Defence signed the deal with France under the leadership of Tinatin Khidasheli last year.

Petriashvili also quit his post, and the party moved into opposition and participated separately in the current elections.

There is some speculation that those quitting the party have been offered official posts in the Government. Even if this is true, it will be good for the country, as the ex-FD members have both professional qualification and experience.