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UNM Weighs its Options for ‘Political Struggle’ as Saakashvili Calls for Boycotting MP Runoffs
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Oct.'16 / 20:06

UNM opposition party, which contests results of the October 8 parliamentary elections, is considering whether to run in second round runoffs for majoritarian MP seats or to boycott them.

While ex-president and founder of UNM, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, is in favor of the boycott, the tactic appears unacceptable for some other leaders of the opposition party.

“I don’t see any sense in participating in the second rounds,” Saakashvili said in a video address posted on his Facebook page on Monday afternoon, adding that running in the runoffs “would actually legitimize the elections held with gross violations.”  
 
He said that both groups within the UNM – those who are in favor of running in the second rounds and those against, have their arguments and before taking any decision lawmakers, elected in the new parliament, should meet party activists to hear their views on the issue.

Saakashvili also said that UNM needs to “regroup”. “We are many and become even more. We will definitely get rid of Ivanishvili’s regime,” he added.

On Monday evening Davit Bakradze, who is number one on UNM’s party list of MP candidates, told journalists that the party will not take hasty decisions.

He said that party will continue discussions and announce about its plans in few days.
 
Describing UNM as “the only pro-western opposition force” in Georgia, Bakradze said that the party is on the forefront of struggle to prevent “one-party regime” in Georgia.

“Our struggle continues, we are not going to go away anywhere; we will definitely win in this struggle,” he said.

“As far as forms of our struggle are concerned, we should all understand that taking any hasty decision at this stage might be harmful for this struggle. We should understand that we are in a new stage of political struggle, wherein hasty decisions may only serve… the strengthening of the current government. We are not going to take a step that may strengthen the government,” he said.

“We will present our plan in nearest days; decision about it will be taken by political council,” Bakradze said, referring to UNM’s main governing body.

“We continue our struggle and we will use all the legal political methods – these methods include both protest rallies and struggle from within political institutions, as well as working with our foreign partners,” Bakradze said.

Giga Bokeria, one of the leaders of the UNM, told journalists at the same briefing during, during which they refused take questions, that the party “will use all the constitutional methods” in its struggle.
 
“In this gravest situation brought upon the country by policies of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s regime and by unfair and non-free elections, we continue our political struggle and our efforts will be directed towards engagement of more citizens in the political and public life to help increase number of those citizens, who will not tolerate [Ivanishvili’s] policies,” Bokeria said.

Some UNM members have publicly spoken out against boycotting the Parliament.

“It is my principled position that we should enter the Parliament. Boycott means a suicide for the party, which is today the main progressive party; it would be extremely harmful for the country,” said Helene Khoshtaria, who is number three on UNM’s party list of MP candidates.
 
UNM MP candidate, Sergi Kapanadze, said: “Now it is important to keep calm and act in frames of the constitution and democratic rules, also within the party; I am sure that’s exactly how it will happen. For me, it implies encouraging our supporters, explaining the society that we should not give the Georgian Dream a chance to win constitutional majority through the second rounds, continue political struggle, including in the Parliament.”

According to early official results, UNM garnered 27.12% of votes in the October 8 parliamentary elections.

UNM candidates made it to the second round of majoritarian MP races in 46 out of 50 single-mandate constituencies – the estimation may change.

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