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UNM Boycotts Parliament After Arrests, Launches Primaries
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Jun.'13 / 17:11

Despite of “massive attack” on the opposition UNM, the party will enter into a campaign for the October presidential elections and proceed with its plan to select a presidential candidate through internal party elections, primaries, President Saakashvili’s party said in a statement on June 28.

Earlier on June 28, the UNM lawmakers also announced about boycotting of the parliamentary sittings in protest against arrest of four senior officials from the Tbilisi city municipality.   

“In the condition when the process of destroying the [United] National Movement is underway, it is impossible to carry out routine [parliamentary] work,” said UNM MP Levan Bezhashvili.

Standing alongside with other UNM lawmakers in the Parliament building in Kutaisi, MP Bezhashvili said: “We are moving to the mode of political boycott. The [UNM] parliamentary faction walks out of the parliamentary sitting and all of its members go to Tbilisi to continue struggle for legality and truth.”

Also on June 28 the UNM announced that it was launching process of selecting its presidential candidate through primaries.

Contenders, who will be running for becoming UNM’s presidential candidate, will be announced at noon on Saturday, UNM MP Giorgi Vashadze said.

“Developments that took place yesterday [referring to the arrest of Tbilisi city officials] demonstrate once again that a massive attack is underway with the purpose of destroying the opposition in Georgia,” MP Vashadze said in Tbilisi, while reading out his party’s statement. “Despite of persecutions, oppression and arrests, we have decided not to drop our plans regarding holding of primaries. Fulfillment of the government’s efforts – that is absence of the opposition, will be disastrous for the country and we, as the responsible opposition, are launching primaries on June 30 from Kutaisi.”

UNM’s plan of primaries involves holding of “regional conferences” during which contenders will be debating on local and national policy issues.

Total of six such conferences will be held in various parts of the country with the last one scheduled in Tbilisi for July 28.

Voting will be held after each of these regional conferences. 25 delegates, elected by members of UNM’s regional branches, will be eligible to vote. On top of that UNM lawmakers, elected in respective provincial constituencies, will also have the right to cast ballot. At Tbilisi’s conference (in the capital city UNM has no majoritarian MPs as they lost the race in capital’s all ten constituencies in 2012 elections) UNM lawmakers elected through party-list system will have the right to cast ballot.

In parallel online voting will also be underway, where being a member of UNM party will not be an obligatory to cast vote.

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