The opposition United National Movement’s political council, the party’s main governing body, decided to hold its congress on January 20, but the issue of election of a new chairperson remains a matter of dispute.
25 members of the political council voted on November 30 in favor of the decision to hold a congress with the participation of 7 000 delegates, as ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili wanted it. 24 members voted against and two members abstained.
“The today’s decision goes against my position, but it is a part of democratic process,” UNM lawmaker, Giga Bokeria told reporters after the session of the political council.
He said that he was in favor of holding the session with the participation of 2 000 delegates, where a new chairperson should have been elected.
Inner-party confrontation became obvious after the October parliamentary elections, when the majority of the UNM’s political council rejected Saakashvili’s calls to boycott the legislative body and started to prepare for a congress to elect a new chairperson. A part of the party members are in favor of electing a new chairperson, another part demands to leave this post vacant – after losing Georgian citizenship, Saakashvili was deprived of the right to chair the UNM party and the party decided not to elect a new chairperson.
“Mikheil Saakashvili’s role in the life of this party is enormous; simply the party continues its life and in the situation, when he is involved in his struggle in Ukraine, this party needs a chairperson and [leader of the parliamentary minority group and chairman of the political council] Davit Bakradze is the best candidate for this post,” Bokeria said.
He also said that the issue of electing a new chairperson will still be raised at the congress as an alternative.
But opponents claim that the political council voted against raising this issue at the congress.
“Misha’s team has won,” Chiora Taktakishvili of the UNM party wrote on her Facebook page. In a statement released on November 29, Taktakishvili and 21 other members of the UNM party called for not electing a new chairperson, because it would mean that the party “distances from Mikheil Saakashvili” that would be “equal to political suicide.”
“No elections will be held for the post of a new chairperson and it will be a clear sign for Bidzina Ivanishvili that Mikheil Saakashvili is an unconditional leader for the National Movement,” former UNM lawmaker Nugzar Tsiklauri told reporters.
Mikheil Saakashvili, who after resigning as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region became leader of opposition movement in Ukraine, welcomed “the only correct decision” in favor of holding a large scale congress.
“I want to thank everyone, who trusted me and did not allow implementation of the plan on distancing me from the party,” Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page.