The messenger logo

More controversy in opposition party

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, December 15
Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), reduced its central office staff by 20 people, which led to even more open disagreement within the party members.

One of the UNM’s leaders, Sergo Ratiani, explains that the reduction of staff was inevitable, as the state reduced monthly funding of the party by 100,000 GEL after the October parliamentary elections.

“The central staff should be reduced and more attention should be paid to the regional branches,” added Ratiani.

Another UNM member, Chiora Taktakishvili, posted on Facebook that the decision was made due to different viewpoints within the party over the format of the next-month congress of the party.

“The dismissed people openly supported the conduction of a large-scale congress, which would gather around 7,000 UNM delegates. These people were dismissed by the decision of the ruling group of the UNM,”Taktakishvili’s post reads.

Moreover, the UNM member believes that the dismissal of these people could have been avoided by reducing everyone’s salaries in the party. “This decision is very shameful,” she added.

Otar Kakhidze, a member of the UNM who is in favor of reorganizing the party’s leadership, responded to Taktakishvili and said the staff reduction was followed by financial problems in the party.

“The reduction of staff is related to reorganization and optimization of expenses. This has nothing to do with political teaming within the party,” said Kakhidze.

Former UNM member Goga Oniani, who was dismissed with 20 other people, says there are much more serious problems within the party than the reduction of staff. He did not specify if his dismissal was based on the disagreement within the party members.

“The UNM's current management has made a lot of ‘controversial’ decisions in recent months, which were not approved by the leading members of the party. Our dismissal is the least important from them,” said Oniani, and expressed hope that the congress, scheduled for January 20, would make a decision that the party cannot go forward without ex-President of Georgia and founder of the UNM, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Inter-party confrontation within the UNM started after the October parliamentary elections, when the majority of the UNM’s political council rejected Saakashvili’s calls to boycott the legislative body and started to prepare for a congress to elect a new chairperson.

On November 30, 25 members of the UNM political council voted in favor of the decision to hold a congress with the participation of 7000 delegates, as Saakashvili wanted it. 24 members voted against and stated it would be better to hold 2000 delegate congress and elect a new chair of the party.

Some party members are in favor of electing a new chairperson, as Saakashvili is now a Ukrainian citizen, but another wing demands to leave this post vacant saying election of a new leader would mean distancing Saakashvili from the party.