Republican Party, one of six political parties united in the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, elected on November 3 Khatuna Samnidze as its new chairperson replacing parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili, who led the party since 2005 and who said last year that he had no intention to seek re-election as party leader after becoming chairman of the parliament.
New chairperson of the Republican Party, Khatuna Samnidze, 35, was a member of a local legislative body in Adjara Autonomous Republic in 2004-2008 and is a member of the Republican Party since 2005. She worked as programme coordinator for gender and conflict at the South Caucasus regional office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation since 2010 before becoming Republican Party’s organizational secretary this year.
Former chairman of the party, Davit Usupashvili, remains a member of party’s 35-seat main governing body.
Leaders of other parties from GD coalition, including PM Ivanishvili, were also present at the congress of the Republican Party on November 3. In his address, PM Ivanishvili praised Republicans as “the most consistent, wise and very stable party”, which “contributed highly to democratic transformation that we managed in recent years”. “This is exemplary party for me,” Ivanishvili said.
In his address, parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili said that despite of “natural difficulties” associated with working within coalition, uniting diverse political parties, the Republican Party “will remain reliable partner” in the Georgian Dream coalition.
“Before there is even one party in the coalition, the Republican Party will be there too,” Usupashvili said.
He also said that that the Republican Party “has never been a super popular party – we know that and we know that it will remain so.”
“Sometimes we hear allegations against us that we are ‘not as much Georgians as we should be’, that we ‘don’t love Georgia as much as we should’. But when asking opponent what specifically they do not like, they fail to specify,” Usupashvili said.
He also said that one of the reasons of opponents’ criticism is being “soft” in respect of UNM opposition party and the previous authorities.
“How we treat defeated determines who we are,” Usupashvili said. “Every person is innocent until proven guilty no matter how angry we might be about this person… Today it remains one of the frontlines and a test for Republicans. We are censured for being soft towards defeated and it represents one of the accusations voiced against us. But we should continue exactly the same way… we should continue this same policy and respect rights of each and every person and let the independent judiciary, not our opinion, find out who is a criminal. This is so important for our country that we should [tolerate] criticism which is voiced today against [the Republican Party].”
He said that Ivanishvili’s one-sentence statement in October, 2011 announcing intention to enter politics “shocked” everyone. “Today we have a result brought by that one phrase and we the Republicans thank you very much for that. As a parliament chairman, I also thank you,” Usupashvili told Ivanishvili.
He, however, then added: “But I have one personal status in capacity of which I am not thanking you – in my capacity of a Georgian citizen, because the Georgian citizens have nothing to thank each other for when we serve our homeland, when we do what we can for the country.”