Following the United National Movement’s split and the subsequent changes in its parliamentary factions, political configuration has changed in the Tbilisi City Council (Sakrebulo) as well.
Three out of the seven members, who entered the Sakrebulo through UNM’s party list - Mamuka Akhvlediani, Davit Avaliani and Tamaz Shoshiashvili - left the party and will continue their legislative activities in the Tbilisi faction; while the rest of the members, among them Irakli Nadiradze, Marina Datukishvili and Temur Grigalashvili, will remain in the UNM faction.
Sevdia Ugrekhelidze, who also entered the Sakrebulo through UNM party list, refused to join the factions; she said at a news briefing on January 16 that she would remain as an independent lawmaker, because “choosing one of the sides, means going against the other.” Ugrekhelidze expressed regret that despite common objectives and ideological ground, the split happened “[due to] tactical differences and personal incompatibility.”
On January 16, the parliamentary bureau took note of the decision to rename the two UNM factions and change the head of the European Georgia faction; the decision was made on January 13 by a group of 20 lawmakers, who left UNM and who are now planning to set up a new political union.
These changes were slammed by the remaining UNM lawmakers, who called on their former party-mates to leave the 21-member faction.
UNM MP Tina Bokuchava said that their request to disregard the changes in the United National Movement faction was neglected by Parliamentary Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze.
She also expressed hope that establishment of a new UNM faction would face no legal obstacles.
Bokuchava was referring to the provision of the parliamentary regulation, according to which “members of one political party can create only one faction. An MP, except a majoritarian MP, if his/her party members have formed a faction, cannot join another faction.”
MP Otar Kakhidze, member of European Georgia faction, said that the regulation cannot hinder the UNM lawmakers from forming a faction, since UNM ran in the 2016 Parliamentary Elections not independently, but in the form of a two-party bloc with a nominal political party European Georgia.
UNM lawmakers will apply for registration of a new parliamentary faction in the near future. The six-member faction, as Bokuchava told Civil.ge on January 17, will include the following lawmakers: Nika Melia, Roman Gotsiridze, Salome Samadashvili, Koba Nakopia, Azer Suleimanov and herself. Several days ago, these lawmakers met ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili in Kiev and discussed the organizational matters of the upcoming congress, as well as the issues of UNM’s parliamentary representation.
MP Ramaz Nikolaishvili will not join any of the two groups. On January 16, the parliamentary bureau acknowledged his appeal to leave the European Georgia faction and remain as an independent lawmaker within the parliamentary minority.
Former UNM lawmakers will maintain the parliamentary minority status and following the establishment of new UNM faction, 21 lawmakers will remain in the parliamentary minority.