Nika Melia Fights Back UNM Leadership Challenge

Nika Melia, the embattled chairman of the United National Movement (UNM), said in an interview with TV Pirveli on January 17 that former Interior and Defense Ministers Vano Merabishvili and Davit Kezerashvili, respectively, used “vicious, KGB-like methods” in an attempt to gain informal control over the party.  

The hard-hitting interview as UNM plans a three-day online poll on January 28-30 to elect the new party chairman. Melia is challenged by Levan Khabeishvili, Nona Mamulashvili, and Giorgi Mumladze. The two shadowy strongmen, Merabishvili and Kezerashvili, reportedly back Khabeishvili in his bid. 

Moral high ground

Melia claimed he wanted to pursue a “moral policy” in the party, which he said was the only way to confront Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “oligarchic regime” and consume the voters that UNM represents a credible alternative to the incumbent government.  

In contrast, he accused Kezerashvili and Merabishvili of instigating a covert leadership challenge, which manifested in a November 9 press conference of Khabeishvili, who demanded Melia’s resignation.

“It is impossible to reach a goal through vicious methods, especially KGB-like methods,” Melia said, accusing the two former ministers of a shadowy plot to gain informal control of the party.

Melia framed the ongoing conflict as “not the struggle not between old and new generations, but between old and new approaches, old and new methods,” It is not a personality clash, but rather “a clash of values,” he insisted.  

Covert recordings  

As a compelling example of dirty tactics allegedly used by his opponents, he named the recently publicized covert audio recordings, where Melia refers to UNM founder and leader Mikheil Saakashvili with vulgar expletives. Melia said former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili spread the recordings as an attempt “to influence the results of [party] elections.”  

He maintained that these tactics were doomed to fail since “a large portion of the UNM voters want to live under a democratic, developed, formalized rule, where such dirty tricks will be over, once and for all.”

Attacking Khabeishvili

Melia attacked Khabeishvili as being motivated only by “money and self-interest.” He admitted to having personally poached off Khabeishvili himself from Giorgi Vashadze’s “Strategy Agmashenebeli” in an effort that “took less than half an hour. “Now, it seems he received more profitable proposals from someone else,” Melia stressed.  

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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