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Saakashvili confident after UNM split

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, January 18
Ex-President of Georgia and founder of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, Mikheil Saakashvili, says the UNM has become stronger after it split into two on January 12, 2017.

Saakashvili believes that recent developments within the UNM were orchestrated by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Prime Minister and the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party (GD), who is still considered as the informal ruler of the country.

He said that after the party congress, scheduled for January 20, the party will be more self-confident and stronger than ever.

“This is the first defeat of the oligarch Ivanishvili, who failed to ruin the UNM. With our activists and supporters, who saved the party, we will be stronger and more confident than ever,” the ex-President claimed.

Moreover, Saakashvili said that the former UNM members who left the party could not put up with the fact of being in the opposition and they “distanced themselves from the political arena”.

“The people who stayed in the UNM are idealists and we need such people to defeat the current regime,” he said, and added that the split of the party was a positive move.

The seventh congress of the UNM will be held on January 20, and more than 7000 delegates have registered to attend it.

UNM member Nino Kalandadze reports that a new political council and its head will be elected at the congress.

However, she said that the post of the party would remain vacant until “the political repressions are over”.

Georgia’s largest opposition party split into two on January 12, 2017.

The decision was made after an inter-party confrontation over the January 20 party congress. The UNM members also had a disagreement about electing a new leader of the party, which divided the party into two groups.

As Saakashvili is now a Ukrainian citizen and he cannot be the Chair of the UNM officially, the pro-Saakashvili wing of the party insists that he remained the informal leader of the party.

The second wing of the party, 59 people in total, who were for electing a new chair, left the UNM and moved to a party – European Georgia, created within the UNM before the October parliamentary elections.