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UNM opposition may dismiss its faction leader

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 10
Members of the main opposition the United National Movement (UNM), which faces inter-party confrontation, openly speak that the party is on the brink of collapse and its faction leader in the legislative body may be dismissed shortly.

The confrontation was led by discussions about electing new leadership of the party, which divided the party into two groups. One group is for distancing founder and informal leader of the party, ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, as he is currently a Ukrainian citizen and unable to legally take part in Georgian political processes. The second, pro-Saakashvili group insists the UNM should not elect a new chairman, saying Saakashvili should remain its informal leader.

The tension has become more severe prior to the party’s congress scheduled for January 20, which will decide the future actions of the party.

The Chair of the UNM, Nikanor Melia, accused UNM members Sergo Ratiani and Akaki Bobokhidze of dealing with the ex-Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is considered by the opposition as the informal ruler of the country.

Bobokhidze stated that this was the initial stage of the party collapse. He said that Saakashvili was to blame for this.

“The dream of Bidzina Ivanishvili came true and the party is going to split up. Mikheil Saakashvili caused this,” stressed Bobokhidze.

After Melia’s confrontation with the other party members, the UNM faction scheduled a meeting for Monday, where Melia’s dismissal from the faction chairmanship was to be discussed.

However, the meeting was postponed, as Tbilisi ex-mayor and one of the leaders of UNM, Gigi Ugulava, who was released from the prison several days ago, asked to give him three days in order to conduct consultations with the opposing sides.

Melia stated that Ugulava was not a mediator and he was the member of the wing, who are in favor of January 20 congress delay.

“A narrow inter-party group is trying to retain power by any means and to dismiss Melia from the faction chairmanship. We will do our best to hold the congress, where around 7000 delegates will decide who the UNM leader will be,” stated Tinatin Bokuchava, Melia’s supporter and a UNM MP.

Another UNM member, Elene Khoshtaria, stressed that Melia could no longer be the faction Chair, as he confronted his own team.

“It has become clear that Melia cannot be the leader of the team, whose members he is insulting,” she said.

A senior member of the UNM, Roman Gotsiridze, said that the chance of the party’s recovery was zero. However, he said he would stay in the party and find the way out.

“There is no chance of maintaining the unity of the party. However, we will work hard to return the country to the path of reconstruction and to come out of the crisis, brought by the current government,” said Gotsiridze.

Unofficial information says that in case Melia is dismissed from the faction chairmanship, he will be substituted either by the fellow member, Otar Kakhidze, or by Irakli Abesadze.

The session of UNM fraction didn't take place on Monday.