Georgia’s ex-President, Mikheil Saakashvili, will no longer serve as the honorary chairman of the opposition United National Movement (UNM). He announced the decision in a Facebook video statement on March 18.
The ex-President said although the 2018 Presidential election “was hijacked” by the Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD), it still “laid the foundations” for a broad alliance of the opposition, a process that – he believes – will eventually lead to a coalition government.
To make that happen faster, according to Mikheil Saakashvili, the UNM, as “the leading actor” of the opposition union, needs to “renew” its leadership and governing structures, as well as its working principles.
“Ivanishvili is not allowing me inside the country, some of our leaders are in prison, including Davit Kirkitadze who was arrested recently; this of course makes organizational work of the party difficult…to overcome these [difficulties], we need to be flexible and make sure that we do not stop fighting,” Saakashvili noted.
“The party needs a new leader on the ground… Grigol Vashadze carried out the Presidential campaign very well and I would personally welcome his candidacy as UNM chairman,” he noted, adding that the new political council, UNM’s governing body, has to be elected by party activists and supporters.
The ex-President added that his resignation will be formalized at UNM’s upcoming party congress.
Saakashvili lost the party chairmanship along with his Georgian citizenship in December 2015 (according to Georgian legislation, only citizens can be involved in political parties), but UNM decided to leave the post vacant.
Saakashvili was actively engaged in the 2018 Presidential campaign, backing Grigol Vashadze through Facebook and his appearances at Rustavi 2, a television station leaning strongly towards the opposition.