On December 27, a meeting of the political council of the United National Movement was cancelled as 27 party members, siding with former president Mikheil Saakashvili, boycotted the meeting.
The United National Movement, the main opposition party in Georgia, is experiencing an internal split over the issue of leadership and the role of ex - President Saakashvili, who currently resides in Ukraine and who was stripped of Georgian citizenship in 2014.
Many in the party desire Saakashvili’s continued leadership of the party, and would like to see the post of party chairman remain vacant for the time-being. Others in the party are urging for change.
One of the leaders of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria, said today that the faction of the party that follows Saakashvili’s every word and accepts it as the absolute truth, is tearing the party apart gradually.
“Everything started with the discussion about the parliament [whether or not to accept parliamentary mandates after the 2016 elections]. Then the smear campaign followed about some sort of deals with Bidzina Ivanishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili himself supported such claims [accusing some UNM to be acting in concert with ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili], and now we have a disregard towards party’s legitimate governing bodies [political council]…
If in perspective, they [pro-Saakashvili faction] see that the decision of the political council might not coincide with their own views, they either simply boycott decisions made by legitimate governing body, or blame others for betrayal and conspiracies… Davit Bakradze had an honest attempt to turn around this abnormal situation, however they saw as a backtracking. The situation is quite worrisome”, -said Bokeria. Bokeria added that others within the party have been more receptive of decision passed through democratic procedure.
When speaking about the current situation within the party, Bokeria also added that, “the key is not in our hands. The key is in the hand of one person, and that is Mikheil Saakashvili. The group that is under his leadership throws dirt and acts shamefully, unfortunately”.
According to Bokeria, while the party has been fighting internal brawls, it has been diverting the attention from the main problem that is a serious economic and political crisis in the country. “With such an approach - that envisions that anything the leader [Saakashvili] says is by default true and by throwing dirt at your teammates of different opinion from yours - we won’t be able to defeat the regime. And that’s the biggest challenge”.
The statement of those 27 members, who boycotted the meeting of the political council, read “holding the meeting hastily is an attempt to revise the already approved version of how we’re planning to hold the convention, bearing in mind the fact that many of the political council members are abroad.”
They also added that the political council had no need to meet to discuss the issue of the convention, given that the political council had already approved the format of the convention on November 30.
The political council of the United National Movement has decided to hold its seventh convention on January 20. More than 7000 delegates will attend the convention.