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Distancing from ex-President Saakashvili

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, December 1
A total of 22 members of the political board of Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), believe that the election of a new Party Chair and distancing themselves from the former leader, Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, currently a Ukrainian citizen, would like to political suicide.

Some members of the UNM, whose main political leaders have been imprisoned for misspending budgetary funds and abuse of power while serving as officials, say the election of a new Chair will mean that the party is no longer “repressed”.

“The election of a new chairman will be a declaration that the UNM does not regard itself as a repressed party and that our political prisoners and political refugees are no longer our main issue. It will cause irreparable damage to our struggle,” the statement of the UNM political board members, released on Wednesday, reads.

The statement also reads that the post of the party Chair has been vacant after a decision of the political board made on December 5, 2015. But the authors of the statement explain that the fact the post is vacant does not hinder the activities and work of the party.

“According to the statute of the party, the party chairman and the chairman of the political council have identical powers. Consequently, all t we want to do can be done by the council chairman,” the statement reads.

The members of the political council underline that Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling party Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia and a billionaire tycoon continues the “monopolization of power” along with Georgia’s occupant neighbor, Russia. They claim that both represent the main problems facing Georgian society.

The statement reads that in the current situation, it is especially important to conduct a large-scale congress and decide all problematic issues within the party.

“The role of regional leaders, activists and supporters must be increased and the congress must represent all groups of the society,” the statement reads.

The issue of the election of a new party Chairman was actively raised early this month, when Gigi Ugulava, former Tbilisi Mayor and member of UNM, who is imprisoned at present for misspending funds, released a letter from jail and recommended to change the leadership of the party.

The letter said that Saakashvili, who was deprived of his Georgian citizenship after being granted a Ukrainian passport on May 30 2015, could not be the leader of the party any more as he was a foreign citizen.

The letter caused controversy among the party members. The majority of them were against of distancing former party Chair from the UNM while others believed that new faces in the party would bring more trust of the population.