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Saakashvili Offers Presidential Primaries in Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 13
(TBILISI) - Georgia’s third president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now in Ukraine having fierce controversies with his former ally President Petro Poroshenko, addressed Georgian opposition parties to nominate a joint candidate for this year’s presidential election in Georgia.

Many of the opposition members in Georgia, Saakashvili’s former friends and affiliates among them, responded that the ex-president was “far from the Georgian political reality and his offer was inadequate.”

“The United National Movement (UNM) should hold primary election with all opposition parties to reveal the strongest candidate for the race.

“When there is the highest challenge, refusing unity is a crime,” Saakashvili told the Rustavi 2 private broadcaster.

The leader of the European Georgia opposition party, partially composed of former members of the UNM, Giga Bokeria stated that there should be cooperation between pro- western opposition forces, but it cannot happen around Saakashvili.

"Pro-western opposition cannot be united around Saakashvili, the proof for this was Saakashvili’s interview, which was the revelation of contradictory opinions of a demoted leader.

“On the one hand, he called on the opposition parties to unite for presidential election and on the other hand, he said that the election is useless because Ivanishvili cannot be defeated in the race,” Bokeria said.

The Republican Party leader Levan Berdzenishvili stated that the idea of unity is good, though the opposition failed to unite during the local self-government elections last year.

"Such offers are useless. It seems that the former president of Georgia is far from the Georgian reality. It is good that Saakashvili talked about this issue, but nobody in Georgia needs to be advised about it, we all know that a joint candidate would be good," Berdzenishvili said.

The Labour Party, which has already nominated its leader Shalva Natelashvili as the presidential candidate, stated that they had “no wish” to have any type of connection with Saakashvili.

The Free Democrats opposition believes that the current president Giorgi Margvelashvili would be the strongest opponent for the Georgian Dream ruling party presidential nominee.

However, Margvelashvili has not yet stated whether he participates in the election or not.

Nika Melia from the United National Movement pushed Saakashvili’s offer forward, but stated that agreeing on the joint candidate does not mean unity around Saakashvili.