Senior MP Salome Samadashvili, who has been a member of the United National Movement since 2016, today confirmed that she is quitting the largest opposition party, adding to “enter a new phase” in her political life.
Samadashvili’s departure from the UNM has been widely anticipated, after she signed individually the EU-brokered deal on April 19 and entered Parliament, despite fierce backlash from her party colleagues. The latter criticized the deal over the lack of guarantees for the snap general election and the unconditional release of party leader Nika Melia, and the June 20, 2019 unrest amnesty clause. Samadashvili then said she would make the final decision on leaving the UNM after Melia’s release, who left the pre-trial custody after EU-posted bail on May 10.
In her Facebook post of today, MP Samadashvili noted she will continue to work towards the full implementation of the April 19 agreement, with those “who had the political courage and signed the agreement, either as a party or as an individual.”
Samadashvili, Georgia’s long-serving Brussels envoy under the UNM administration, said she had deployed her “international connections [to help] the party, which faced great challenges in the West.”
She also credited herself for keeping UNM’s parliamentary work alive together during the 2016-2020 convocation together with MP Roman Gotsiridze and MP Tina Bokuchava. The three, together with Melia, remained loyal to the UNM as the majority of party lawmakers quit to create the European Georgia party in January 2017 over the post-2016-election intra-party crisis.
As things stand, the UNM has yet to sign the EU-brokered deal and take up parliamentary seats as the party leaders disagree on which path to follow, despite UNM leader-in-exile, former President Mikheil Saakashvili, earlier voicing support for signing once Melia would be released from custody. As Melia left prison two days ago, UNM leaders said the party’s political council would make the decision on joining the Parliament in the coming days.