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Former UNM Chair Quits Party, Reveals Plans to Launch his Own

On December 7, the former leader of the main opposition party in Georgia, the United National Movement (UNM), Nika Melia, officially departed the party and announced the formation of his own , saying that although he doesn’t claim to have the most “qualified party in the political spectrum”, he will soon build “the truest political party, on which qualification, knowledge and vision should be built”.

Melia held an emergency briefing yesterday, highlighting his 11-year commitment to fighting “Bidzina Ivanishvili’s regime” in Georgia, noting that in Georgia “we have a political climate… that is entirely based on informal governance and the influence of people behind the scenes.”

“In recent months, I have done everything possible to ensure that the principles I hold dear to prevail in the “National Movement”. In this corrupt political system that exists in the country, politicians try to make immorality a political standard, a prerequisite for success. Politicians who share this standard convince each other that they will achieve more by abandoning principles than by sticking to them, and then all such politicians together try to convince the people of this,” – stated Nika Melia.

He talked about the need to end “Ivanishvili’s regime” with morality and concluded his statement with saying: “I’m leaving, yes, I’m moving forward to the future and leaving the past in the past. The oligarchy in this country wants to write the history of Georgia, but the history of Georgia will be written by the Georgian people.”

Levan Khabeishvili made a public announcement on November 27, expelling Nika Melia from the party during a live television broadcast. Clearly stating, “No he [Melia] is not [a member of the party,” Khabeishvili responded to a journalist’s handwritten query with his distinctive signature. With UNM party members steadily departing the National Movement daily (On December 6, 15 more members of the Kakheti UNM organization left the party) , there’s mounting pressure on Levan Khabeishvili to step down from his position.

Levan Khabeishvili defeated the incumbent, Nika Melia to become the new leader of the opposition UNM party in January 2023. The winner received 52.58% (21,656 votes), against Melia’s 40% (16,476 votes). The UNM held the election through an electronic voting system from January 28 to January 30. 

Shortly before the elections, Nika Melia, then leader of the UNM party, accused former Interior and Defense Ministers Vano Merabishvili and Davit Kezerashvili, of using “vicious, KGB-like methods” to unseat him and promote Khabeishvili. The party has since been in turmoil.

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

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