UNM Split Leads to Disagreement over Parliamentary Factions

TBILISI – After the split of Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), disagreement continues between the former party members over the factions in the parliament.

The UNM, which entered the new year with 27 seats in parliament, has seen 21 of its MPs leave the party. Two factions have been formed by the remaining six members, calling themselves the United National Movement and the National Movement for Georgia’s Advancement. These loyalist factions are now calling themselves European Georgia.

The new European Georgia coalition will be headed by Sergo Ratiani, instead of former UNM head Nika Melia.

Meanwhile, the National Movement for Georgia’s Advancement, a seperate faction within the former UNM coaliton, has changed its name to European Georgia for a Better Future. Elene Khoshtaria remains its head.

The current members of the National Movement say the factions belong to them, and have called on their former teammates to form new factions.

UNM member Akaki Minashvili says that as the rebelious MPs have officially left the party, they need to form new factions, the existing names and identties still belonging to UNM and its loyalists.

“We cannot create a new faction, as the UNM faction already exists in the parliament. Our former teammates have to form a faction as they left the party and have nothing to do with our faction,” Minashvili said.

Otar Kakhidze, former member of the UNM and member of the new European Georgia for a Better Future faction, responded to Minashvili and said that the factions do not belong to the UNM but to the UNM election bloc, which united UNM and European Georgia.

Kakhidze believes that the 6 UNM MPs who stayed in the party should instead form a new faction themselves.

Georgia’s largest opposition party UNM split into two on January 12, 2017.

The decision was made after an inter-party conflict about the upcoming January 20th party congress, when around 7000 delegates will gather together to decide the fate of the party.

UNM members also disagreed about electing a new leader of the party. It was this disagreement which caused the final split.

In total, 59 party members have officially left the UNM.

BY Thea Morrison

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