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UNM leader offers postponed party convention

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 27
One of the leaders of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition, the party which ran Georgia between 2003-2012 and which now holds 27 seats in the 150-member Parliament, believes the party should postpone the convention of its 7,000 delegates, currently scheduled for January 20.

David Bakradze, the ex-Parliament Speaker who was number one in the UNM party list for the October parliament elections, says the convention has caused “controversy”, and the party should try to “maintain unity” and be fully prepared for the event.

Bakradze also stressed it was “beyond morality” to call “party members traitors”, referring to the statement of Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who said some of the UNM members favoured Georgia’s ex-Prime Minister, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who, with his Georgian Dream party, defeated the nine-year rule of the UNM in 2012.

Bakradze’s statement over postponing the party gathering to discuss the future steps of the UNM with its delegates was unacceptable for Saakashvili, who was deprived of his Georgian citizenship and has just moved into the opposition in Ukraine after serving as Governor of Odessa for a round a year.

He stressed that the gathering should be held on January 20, and added that Bakradze “told a lie” when he said that Saakashvili called some of the UNM members traitors.

One of the issues that would allegedly be discussed during the party gathering would be who would chair the UNM.

The party is not unanimous over the issue. One group in the UNM claims the party must have a new leader, probably Bakradze, while the second group believes the UNM must not distance itself from Saakashvili.

Bakradze stressed he didn't intend to raise the issue of his leadership of the party during the party gathering.

The young faces of the UNM, who are now UNM lawmakers in Parliament, say there is a “severe controversy” within the party because of the statements of certain UNM members who support Saakashvili’s views.

UNM member Otar Kakhidze stated it was unacceptable for someone from the party to accuse other party members of dealing with Ivanishvili, as UNM members, the new faces among them, were fighting “against Ivanishvili’s rule of the country”.

Analyst Gia Khukhashvili believes Saakashvili is acting in a “selfish manner” when he may be less interested or less aware of the current political situation in Georgia.

The analyst states “satisfying his personal ambitions” is a key point for Saakashvili, who became angry when the majority of the UNM turned down his appeal to boycott the October elections and instead took their seats in the legislative body.

Fellow analyst Soso Tsintsadze believes the party must elect a new chairperson to survive.

The analyst does not exclude the splitting of the party, which would have negative consequences for the party in the future and would cause a loss in votes and supporters.