United National Movement (UNM) is a strongly united team based on values and there is no internal strife within the party, President Saakashvili, who is also chairman of UNM, said on April 16.
He made the remarks after he was asked during an interview with Rustavi 2 TV about allegations voiced against UNM secretary general Vano Merabishvili purportedly by Data Akhalaia, a former senior interior ministry official and brother of Bacho Akhalaia, ex-defense and ex-interior minister.
“I don’t even want to talk about it; it’s simply not serious,” Saakashvili said on those allegations.
He said that he had never had close ties with Data Akhalaia and since the Rose Revolution had met him only for “two or three times”.
“I do not think that he was an activist of the National Movement at all,” Saakashvili said and added that main political process was ongoing in the Parliament where UNM “has a very good team” of lawmakers.
“National Movement is not a group based on personal relations; National Movement is unity based on principles – people come and go, sometimes they argue… that has been happening and that will happen in the future as well,” Saakashvili said and also added that UNM’s parliamentary minority group showed its unity during a vote in the Parliament on constitutional changes.
Asked if the UNM was planning to name its presidential candidate at its rally on Rustaveli Avenue on April 19, Saakashvili responded that he was not aware of details of the planned rally, “because it’s not and it should be a function of the President.” He also said that the rally should not be used for the purpose of naming a candidate.
Asked if Vano Merabishvili would be UNM’s presidential candidate, Saakashvili said that UNM would select its presidential candidate “transparently” among multiple contenders through internal competition within the party.
“Vano [Merabishvili] is a very dignified person, but it’s not about personalities, it’s about the process and Vano himself is one of the imitators of this process” to select a candidate through internal party competition, possibly through primaries, Saakashvili said.