MP Marika Verulashvili, who had been a long-time ally of President Saakashvili before she quit UNM party in early February, said on Wednesday that former PM Vano Merabishvili should be blamed for UNM’s defeat in the October parliamentary elections.
Echoing allegations voiced in a statement purportedly by former senior interior ministry officials Data Akhalaia, who is brother of ex-interior and ex-defense minister Bacho Akhalaia, Verulashvili said that Merabishvili was responsible for UNM’s “complete failure” in the October elections.
In first public comments since quitting UNM, Verulashvili said that she decided to leave President Saakashvili’s party because of Merabishvili, who became UNM’s secretary general two weeks after the elections in October. She was speaking with journalists outside the Tbilisi City Court where she appeared to attend a trial against Bacho Akhalaia, who is under arrest facing multiple criminal charges, which he denies.
In early February, when Verulashvili quit UNM, some representatives of the parliamentary minority group were suggesting that it was a result of pressure exerted on Verulashvili by the new authorities. President Saakashvili said in January that Verulashvili was pressured to quit UNM, otherwise threatened with the arrest of her husband.
“He should not have been appointed as secretary general of this party; because of that I decided that there was no place for me in this party, although it was a very painful decision for me, because I was its member from the very first day of establishment of this party,” Verulashvili said on April 17.
She said that the April 15 statement against Merabishvili was penned by Data Akhalaia and was “a birthday present for Merabishvili”, who turned 45 on April 15.
“Vano Merabishvili is not accustomed to listening truth, but he will have to listen the truth and many unpleasant surprises await him in the nearest future,” MP Verulashvili said.