Following departures from Batumi, Zugdidi, Chiaturi, Khobi, and Kaspi, 15 members of the United National Movement, the largest opposition group in Georgia in power between 2004-2012, have exited from the eastern Kakheti region.
The exodus included two deputies from the Sighnaghi City Assembly, Nato Usenashvili and Nona Noniashvili. Several months ago, they left the UNM faction, opting to work as independent deputies of the body. In her press comments, Usenashvili claimed the decision to leave the party stemmed from disagreements with the current leadership of the party.
"Since Levan Khabeishvili assumed the role of party chairman [in January], supporters of Nika Melia [the former chair] have faced continuous insults and humiliation. Allegations were made that we were tarnishing the party's and faction's image in the Assembly”, she said.
Dozens of members left the party over the past several weeks, citing “wrong policies” of Khabeishvili and the party’s political council. The part of domestic opposition groups believe they are expected to join a potential, new party of Melia, who calls Khabeishvili a “puppet” in the hands of former UNM officials, including ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and former Interior and Defence Ministers Vano Merabishvili and David Kezerashvili.