Georgia’s largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM) has split.
Several leaders of the party that governed Georgia from 2004-2012 announced their departure from the UNM today and their intentions to create a new political party. The news was announced at a special press briefing held in front of the UNM headquarters in Tbilisi this afternoon.
"This statement is very difficult emotionally”, one of the UNM leaders, Davit Bakradze, said as he announced the party was splitting.
He added that there were "fundamental disagreements” within the party, which had become especially tense following the 2016 Parliamentary elections.
"These disagreements were about the party’s strategy, tactics, assessment of the past, the party’s present activities, its role in the political institutions and political life of the country and most importantly, the party’s future”, Bakradze said.
Following this, one of UNM’s leaders and the former mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava, who was released from prison last week, spoke at the briefing. He said that he "was done” with Mikheil Saakashvili, the ex-president and founder of UNM.
"[Saakashvili] no longer deserves to be the leader. He no longer radiates leadership”, Ugulava said.
Talking about Saakashvili, Ugulava said that the creators of the party had become "the destroyer of the party”.
Looking ahead, Ugulava announced that a newly-formed political force will begin prepartions for upcoming municipal elections and will continue fighting the Georgian Dream government.
Other former UNM leaders and members who departed from the UNM today include Giga Bokeria, Elene Khoshtaria, Otar Kakhidze, Irma Nadirashvili, Sergo Ratiani, Gigi Tsereteli, Zurab ChiaberashvilI and Irakli Abesadze.