UNM opposition party has given up plans to select its Tbilisi mayoral candidate through internal party elections and named its lesser-known member, Nikoloz Melia, to stand in mayoral race in the capital city in the June 15 local elections.
On March 1 UNM announced about the plan to select its Tbilisi mayoral candidate through primaries – MP Giorgi Vashadze and Tbilisi municipal official Nikoloz Melia were named as primary contenders.
But on March 12 MP Giorgi Vashadze, who first announced about intention to run for capital city’s mayoral office last year, said that he had decided to withdraw from the race. Vashadze, who was deputy justice minister in 2010-2012 and turned into one of UNM’s most visible figures since becoming a lawmaker in 2012 parliamentary elections, did not provide specific reason what made him change his mind.
“Competition [within the party] resulted into emergence of new leaders, among them is my friend Nika Melia. So I took this decision together with our team to withdraw my candidacy in his favor,” MP Vashadze said.
Melia, who said about himself that he’s not a politician and has no political experience, is now head of Old Tbilisi district; he chaired the National Bureau of Enforcement before the 2012 parliamentary elections; last year he was charged with abuse of power while serving as head of the enforcement bureau in the case related to Cartu Bank; he denies charges.
Commenting on MP Vashadze’s decision to withdraw from the race, Melia said on March 12 that Vashadze apparently decided not to focus his political activity only on Tbilisi, but to instead remain active on national level.
Georgian Dream ruling coalition’s candidate for Tbilisi mayoral office is Davit Narmania, who is now minister for regional development and infrastructure.