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Split in key opposition party

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 18
Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted on several charges in Georgia and who has just quit his Odessa governor's post in Ukraine, says some of the leaders of the United National Movement opposition party are “self-proclaimed”, and secretly had dealings with the current ruling party founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The UNM, which ran Georgia from 2003-2012 under the leadership of Saakashvili, managed to gain only 27 seats in the 150-member legislative body after last month’s parliamentary elections.

Saakashvili, who was deprived of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he was granted Ukrainian nationality and took the post of Odessa Governor, was actively participating in the UNM’s pre-election campaigning, despite the fact that as a foreign citizen he had no legal right to do so.

When the UNM failed to obtain more than 27 seats in the legislative body Saakashvili urged the party to boycott the election outcomes, recognized by all local and international organizations, and move protest to the streets.

However, the majority of the UNM decided to enter Parliament, which triggered anger in Saakashvili, who is now facing serious problems in Ukraine.

Saakashvili refrains from often mention the name, but one of the key targets of his criticism in the UNM is the country’s ex-Secretary of the Security Council - one of key Saakashvili's former allies - Giga Bokeria.

It was Bokeria and a renewed wing of the UNM who opposed Saakashvili’s appeals to organize rallies.

“It was the only right decision to enter Parliament, but it caused a very aggressive reaction in one group of our party and encouraged a very dirty campaign,” Bokeria said.

“It is a very big mistake to say that the elections have no sense. We are going to take part in the municipal elections next year, we are going to struggle with our supporters. This is our task: to stand by people and not to encourage this dirty campaign,” Bokeria added.

Several new members of the UNM have already stated that Saakashvili should no longer get involved in the party’s activities, while there are still some people in the party who think that Saakashvili and the UNM are inseparable.

The very obvious fact is that the bigger portion of the UNM, especially its new faces, are trying to separate Saakashvili from the party’s activities, as they believe that Saakashvili’s association with the party affects its rating, functioning and future advancement.

It is very likely that the UNM will split between those supporting Saakashvili’s connection with the party and those opposing him.

Saakashvili may himself also step back, as now that he has openly politically opposed his friend, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, and accused him of lobbying corruption, he may not have time for the UNM.

Some of Ukraine’s lawmakers have already said they would demand Saakashvili’s extraditing to Georgia, where he is very likely to be detained due to the charges.

However, if Saakashvili’s foreign connections are taken into account, it may not be hard for him to find asylum in another state apart from Ukraine.