TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili has asked his political party to find a replacement for him as leader, in order to make it more “flexible”.
In a video address publisheed on Facebook, the former president suggested Grigol Vashadze as the best candidate to take over the helm of the United National Movement, but it should be decided by the party convention, he added.
“Ivanishvili has done everything not to let me into the country, some of our leaders are imprisoned […] and it certainly complicates the organization’s work. We constantly must be flexible […] so in my opinion, it is important to elect a chairman of the National Movement because it needs a leader who will take over this flag with you,” Saakashvili said in his video address.
After he left the country in late 2013, Georgian courts have sentenced Saakashvili in absentia for several crimes. The last trial was held in June, 2018 when he was sentenced to six years in jail for ordering the beating of an opposition MP in 2005.
Saakashvili and his supporters attribute this to political persecution and deny any wrongdoings.
By Georgian law he can’t hold an office of party chairman, hence the United National Movement, which remains the country’s largest opposition party, decided to grant him the title of honorable president. Since then, the UNM has not had a formal chair. The party is managed by a political council, which consists of over hundred individuals.
Grigol Vashadze is Saakashvili’s personal friend and served during his presidency as minister of foreign affairs in 2008-2012. He ran for Georgia’s presidency in 2018 and made to the runoff.