Amid internal turmoil in Georgia’s largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), the party has announced a significant change in its political council. The UNM adds 20 new members to its ranks, most of them long-time UNM members. At the same time, the party has declared that the door to the new political council is open to any member of the old political council, provided that they sign the November 23 manifesto of the UNM and former President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Simultaneously, members of various regional city councils within the party calling for the resignation of its chairman, Levan Khabeishvili. Khabeishvili’s opponents blame his leadership for the crisis within the UNM party, accusing him of “destroying and weakening the party”.
Dissatisfied members stress the need for Khabeishvili to take responsibility and resign, expressing concern that under Levan Khabeishvili’s leadership, the party’s chances in the crucial 2024 parliamentary elections will be jeopardized.
At the same time, a controversy has erupted over Nika Melia, the party’s former chairman. The UNM has issued a statement claiming that Melia no longer represents the National Movement, citing differences in principles outlined in the party’s November 23 manifesto. Notably, Nika Melia and several of his supporters have refrained from signing the manifesto. Khabeishvili argued that Melia had decided to leave the party himself saying: “I did not let him go, I did not throw him out, he decided that he was not a member of the National Movement. [He is not registered in the National Movement”. He also noted that the party would accept Nika Melia back into the party and that he himself was ready to cooperate “if tomorrow Nika Melia says that he will fight against Bidzina Ivanishvili and he stops discrediting the National Movement and throwing mud [at it].”
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