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Former Parliament Speaker Usupashvili shows support to his ex-ally in by-elections

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, May 15
Former Georgian Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili has shown his support to the joint candidate of the European Georgia and the Free Democrats opposition parties for Mtatsminda District MP in Tbilisi Shalva Shavgulidze, in the May 19 by-elections in the capital and regions.

Usupashvili, who is one of the most experienced politicians in Georgia, chairing the eighth parliament of Georgia for four years from 2012 to 2016 under the current Georgian Dream leadership, stated that the country needs more people like Shavgulidze.

“I have seen the importance of Shavgulidze in parliament, the importance of his knowledge and moral values. At the same time, we should see changes in the country’s political life,” Usupashvili said.

Both Shavgulidze and Usupashvili entered the Georgian parliament in 2012, when the Georgian Dream coalition, created by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement, the party created by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Shavgulidze was then the member of the Free Democrats, while Usupashvili represented the Republican Party.

The Free Democrats were the first to quit the coalition in 2014 when their leader Irakli Alasania was dismissed as defense minister. The Republicans took the step in 2016, and they participated separately in the parliamentary elections of that year.

After the 2016 elections, Usupashvili quit the Republican Party as he could not agree with other leaders of the party about the party’s future.

In 2017 Usupashvili initiated the creation of the ‘Movement of the Building’, stating that neither the ruling party nor the current opposition could settle key issues for Georgia.

The movement’s primary goal is winning the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Shavgulidze, who is still a member of the Free Democrats, was grilled by many both in the current government and the opposition when he presented himself as the joint candidate of the Free Democrats and the European Georgia in the upcoming by-elections in the Mtatsminda district of Tbilisi.

The reason was that the European Georgia is composed of many former UNM movement members, the party Shavgulidze opposed in 2012.

The May 19 by-elections will be held in the Mtatsminda District of Tbilisi, in the eight municipalities of Georgia [where the members of the city assemblies must be elected], and for the mayors of five cities.

20 candidates are running for the Mtastminda district MP, for the place in parliament which became vacant after the election of Salome Zurabishvili as the president of Georgia last year.

The elections for the members of city assemblies will be held in Sagarejo, Akhmeta, Adigeni, Zestaponi, Tchiatura, Tkibuli, Tskaltubo and Ozurgeti municipalities of Georgia, where former members quit due to various reasons.

Mayors will be elected for Marneuli, Zestaponi, Tchiatura, Zugdidi, and Khulo, as former mayors either resigned or were charged with corruption and misuse of power.

The Georgian Dream ruling party presented Doctor Vladimer Kakhadze for Mtatsminda district of Tbilisi.

Experts say that the situation will be most tensed in Zugdidi, as the United National Movement opposition presented former first lady Sandra Roelofs to run for the Zugdidi Mayor.

The opposition says that 'saving the country' should start from Zugdidi.