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UNM collapsed

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 13
The wing of Georgia’s key opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), which wanted to distance the party from the founder and informal leader of the party, Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, has left the party.

The so called Bokeria-Ugulava wing made the statement about leaving the party on January 12 and said that the whole responsibility of the party’s collapse lay on Saakashvili.

Initially, the inter-party confrontation started after the discussions about electing new leadership of the party, which divided the party into two groups. The Bokeria-Ugulava wing was for distancing Mikheil Saakashvili from the party, as he is now a Ukrainian citizen and has his own opposition party in Kiev. The second, pro-Saakashvili group insisted the UNM should not elect a new chairman, saying Saakashvili should remain its informal leader, insisting that without him the party would fail.

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

The heads of 38 UNM municipal and regional organizations, 21 MPs, as well as some council members decided to leave the UNM and form a new political party.

“The inter-party confrontation was ugly, and an improper form of expressing different positions. We left this in the past and we will start building a new future,” one of the leaders of the UNM, Davit Bakradze, stated.

Former Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava, who left prison just several days ago, also joined the group of the people who quit the UNM. He underlined that UNM does not belong to Saakashvili alone, and he cannot be the leader any more.

“I would have done my best to prevent the split up of the party but it was impossible… Saakashvili does not deserve to be the leader anymore,” stressed Ugulava.

A member of pro-Saakashvili team, Nikanor Melia wished success to the people who left the party. However, he said that the new political faction created by the former members of the UNM would be “more like a Non-Governmental Organization rather than a real political force”.

Moreover, the two wings of the UNM had different opinions about entering Parliament, after October 8 elections, which brought the UNM 27 seats in Parliament.

The pro-Saakashvili group was for boycotting the elections, saying it was “a shame to recognize falsified elections”, while the Bokeria-Ugulava wing insisted that being in a minority did not mean they had failed.

More details about the new political platform created by the now ex-UNM members are not known yet. However, it is clear that the most prominent UNM members will be part of it.