New Political Center-Girchi announced late on Tuesday evening about quitting State for People election bloc, led by opera singer Paata Burchuladze, citing coalition’s “serious problems”.
The announcement comes just eleven days before the parliamentary elections and NPC-Girchi said that its decision automatically means that it is also withdrawing from the race.
Four-party election bloc was formed on August 18 uniting Burchuladze’s State for People; New Rights; NPC-Girchi and New Georgia – the two latter parties are led by former UNM members MP Zurab Japaridze and MP Giorgi Vashadze, respectively.
“This [quitting the election bloc] is a difficult, but necessary decision, because the bloc has serious problems in terms of management and relations between individuals, as well as in terms of finances,” NPC-Girchi said in a brief written statement late on September 27 without elaborating details.
Speaking at Rustavi 2 TV’s talk show shortly after NPC-Girchi’s announcement, Paata Burchuladze said that it was his decision to sack NPC-Girchi from the coalition and “remove” its members from bloc’s list of MP candidates.
Burchuladze claimed that he took this decision after learning that source of campaign funds NPC-Girchi was planning to raise was billionaire ex-PM and founder of ruling GDDG party, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
“We are an independent party,” Burchuladze said, whose State for People party has been left by several of its high-profile members over the past six weeks. “Our party is not a satellite of either Saakashvili or Ivanishvili… Girchi is funded by Ivanishvili. Taking his [Ivanishvili’s] money means becoming like Ivanishvili – that’s not what I want, and I will never be like him.”
Shortly after this allegation, leader of NPC-Girchi, Zurab Japaridze, convened a news conference and denied Burchuladze’s claims as “fairy tales”.
Japaridze claimed that his party decided to quit the bloc after Burchuladze actually “blackmailed” him by demanding money otherwise threatening to remove Girchi’s members from the election bloc’s list of MP candidates; Japaridze also alleged that Burchuladze wanted money not for campaign, but personal purposes.
NPC-Girchi has three members in the list of top 12 MP candidates – Vakhtang Megrelishvili, who is number fourth in the list; Iago Khvichia – number sixth and Zurab Japaridze – number 12th; Japaridze formally still remains the election bloc’s majoritarian MP candidate in Tbilisi’s Vake single-mandate constituency. September 28 is a deadline for candidates to withdraw from the race.