A New Twist as UNM Names Isani Majoritarian

The United National Movement (UNM), a former ruling party, has nominated Khatia Dekanoidze, former Minister of Education, as a majoritarian candidate for Isani constituency in Tbilisi on August 26.

Some of the opposition parties slammed the move, accusing the UNM of breaking the deal, as Giorgi Vashadze, leader of the New Georgia party and former UNM MP, had already been named since June 19, including by the UNM, as a joint opposition candidate to run in Isani.

The UNM, in turn, blamed Vashadze for breaching the agreement first, by endorsing Tako Charkviani from Law and Justice party as a contender in Saburtalo constituency. Charkviani denied the accusations, claiming that she was never a part of the deal in the first place.

The first cracks began to appear when Vashadze and Charkviani announced their departure from the UNM-led opposition coalition “Strength in Unity”, set up in 2018 ahead of presidential polls, and the subsequent establishment of a new joint “Strategy Agmashenebeli” platform in July.

The split comes days after up to 30 opposition parties, including the UNM and Vashadze-Charkviani union, have signed an agreement on defending each other’s votes on August 24.

Giorgi Vashadze criticized Dekanoidze’s nomination, claiming that the UNM had again “broken its word” and “violated the agreement”.

Khatia Dekanoidze, on her part, said she does not see the opposition candidate as her challenger. “I see Bidzina Ivanishvili’s [the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party] regime as the main competitor,” noted Dekanoidze.

MP Sergi Kapanadze from European Georgia slammed the UNM’s move as a “wrong decision” and a “big mistake”, negatively affecting the chances of both the UNM and the opposition in general.

Shalva Natelashvili, Labor leader at the forefront of the opposition unity, stated that the joint format of the opposition parties chose Vashadze as Isani contender and that “revision is not going to happen.”

Along with Dekanoidze, whose majoritarian bid stirred controversy among the opposition, two other UNM candidates, Nika Melia and Levan Khabeishvili, are running on a joint opposition ticket in Tbilisi’s Gldani and Samgori districts, respectively.

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