Ex-President Saakashvili Approves of UNM Fracture

TBILISI – Former President of Georgia and founder of the opposition United National Movement party (UNM) has expressed approval of his former party’s fracture. The UNM officially split into two on January 12, 2017, following disagreements about party leadership.

In an interview on the Rustavi 2 TV program Archevani, Saakashvili said that the departure of rebellious MPs has left the UNM stronger than it was before.

“This is a positive process. The people who stayed in the party are idealists and we need such people to defeat the current regime,” Saakashvili stressed.

The former president said that those who left the party had only put themselves in worse position. He explained their defection by claiming that they were unable to countenance the idea of staying in the opposition.

“A part of our team members have lost faith in the idea, faith in victory, lost faith in what we serve, and they might have never believed in it. Such people should not be in the party,” he said.

Saakashvili believes that the defectors had begun planning to leave the UNM some time ago. A new party, European Georgia, had been formed within the UNM coalition by many of the eventual defectors three months before the October 8th parliamentary elections.

According to Saakashvili, the collapse of the UNM plays into the interests of Bidzina Ivanishvili, a former Prime Minister and the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party (GD). Ivanisvhili remains considered the informal ruler of the country.

Saakashvili has been living in Ukraine since the 2013 presidential elections, following his defeat by the GD candidate, Giorgi Margvelashvili.

He was granted Ukrainian citizenship, but consequently found guilty of violating Georgia’s ban on dual citizenship and stripped of his Georgian passport in December 2015. He served as the governor of Odessa until November 2016, when he resigned and set up his own opposition party, Wave.

At present, the ex-president is wanted for several charges in Georgia. Although he cannot in practice return to his home country, he remains the informal leader of the UNM.

The UNM was Georgia’s ruling party from 2003 to 2012, but was defeated by GD in the 2012 parliamentary elections. The parliamentary defeat is widely attributed to the release of video footage, in the weeks preceding the elections, showing the rape and torture of prisoners in Tbilisi jails by members of the police.

by Thea Morrison 

17 January 2017 14:23