Outgoing president Mikheil Saakashvili said in a written statement on Friday that he will not be attending inauguration of president-elect Giorgi Margvelashvili on November 17.
Saakashvili, who left for Brussels more than a week ago, said “at this stage” he’s going to be involved in launching an international research center and will “refrain from participating in Georgia’s everyday politics.”
Earlier on the same day the United National Movement (UNM) party, which is chaired by Saakashvili, said in a written statement that its representatives will not be attending the inauguration. UNM said that Davit Bakradze, who was its presidential candidate in the October 27 election, showed his respect to the choice of voters by congratulating Margvelashvili on victory.
“We reiterated our respect towards all the voters and the state institutions, but we deem it impossible to participate in the inauguration ceremony in the condition when the political force, which is [election] winner, is obsessed by desire for confrontation, instead of desire for unity, when our co-fighters remain in illegal detention, including party’s secretary general [Vano Merabishvili] and thousands of our supporters are subjected to interrogations and political persecution,” UNM said.
Saakashvili, who like ex-president Eduard Shevardnadze, is invited to the inauguration ceremony, also cited the same reason behind his decision to snub the invitation.
“Such an important figures like Bacho Akhalaia [former defense and interior minister] and Vano Merabishvili [former PM and interior minister] became victims of irrational policy of witch hunt. They are in jail now. Such a situation has thwarted an excellent chance of peaceful transfer of power,” Saakashvili said in the statement on his Facebook page. He also blamed the Georgian Dream coalition of disrespect to state institutions and ignoring idea of continuity.
Before this statement was released, chief of Saakashvili’s administration, Andro Barnovi, said that the outgoing president will attend the inauguration only if “before the end of the day tomorrow the current authorities announce about giving up the practice of pretrial detentions against our political leaders and if they declare that this presidential palace remains presidential residence.”
“This is not a whim, this is a condition fulfillment of which will guarantee that we will not have backsliding,” Barnovi said.
Echoing the statement of his UNM party, Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, also said that he will not be attending the inauguration. He said that the Tbilisi mayor’s office was involved in organizing the ceremony, but he will not attend the inauguration of “a person who fails to distinguish between enemy and ally.”
Meanwhile in Kutaisi, during a parliament session on November 15, UNM lawmakers walked out of chamber in protest after a discussion of police academy bill turned ugley with insults flying back and forth and the deputy interior minister calling one UNM MP a “bastard”.
Deputy Interior Minister, Levan Izoria, presented before lawmakers for a second reading the bill offering giving the police academy status of high education institution, which is opposed by UNM lawmakers. At one point Izoria and several parliamentary minority lawmakers engaged in verbal exchange during which UNM MP Akaki Bobokhidze hurled a derogatory term at Izoria and the latter responded by telling him: “I will not forgive you this, bastard.” Vice-Speaker of parliament Manana Kobakhidze, who was presiding over the session, had to announce a brief break. Later Izoria apologized “before the parliament and the society.”