MP Zurab Japaridze, executive secretary of the United National Movement (UNM), said on May 25 that he and three other UNM lawmakers quit the opposition party.
Three other MPs, who have quit the party, which is now the largest opposition force, are: Pavle Kublashvili; Goga Khachidze and Giorgi Meladze – all three long-time UNM members.
More than dozen of MPs have quit the former ruling UNM party since the 2012 parliamentary elections, but this is the first time when its high-profile members do so.
MP Japaridze said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that despite of withdrawal from the UNM party and its parliamentary minority group, he and three others remain in the opposition.
“Neither the values, nor the perception of reality existing in the country, political visions and nor political rivals have changed for us,” MP Japaridze said.
“Moreover, together with our allies, we will continue our struggle with even more enthusiasm and vigor in order to put an end to the rule by the oligarch [referring to ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili], and to get the country back on track of democratic development and economic growth,” he said.
He also said that he and three other former UNM members will speak about reasons behind their decision to quit the party on Wednesday.
Commenting on decision of MP Japaridze and three others, a senior UNM lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said that the UNM has been “under pressure” from the authorities; he suggested that the four MPs quit UNM because of this “pressure” and added that leave the party at this moment in time was “absolutely irresponsible” decision.
MP Japaridze said that reasons behind his and three other lawmakers’ decision are “subject of much more serious discussions, then those irrelevant allegations about ‘irresponsibility’ and ‘failure to withstand pressure’, which have been voiced in our address.”
With the withdrawal of four MPs, number of UNM lawmakers in the Parliament has declined to 46.