Battle for Citizens Union Party (Updated)

Will the CUG Be For or Against the President?

One day before the party meeting on December 22 the Citizens Union of Georgia consists of several confronting teams. Internal dialogue, aimed to the achievement of consent within the party was a failure.

Supporters of Zurab Zhvania, former parliamentary chairman and Levan Mamaladze, Presidents representative in Kvemo Kartli region are the main opposing parties. General Secretary of the party Edward Surmanidze, who belongs to Zhvania’s team, says that the meeting is not going to be an easy one. According to his words, December 22 meeting will decide if CUG would remain a governmental party or would it oppose the President. On December 21 Surmanidze stated that the party needs “cleansing”. He says that “corrupted people” joined the party and discredited it.

Eduard Shevardnadze, who chaired the party, created ‘around’ in 1994, till Autumn 2001 remains a most influential person in the CUG. Probably this was the main reason of holding consultations with Zurab Zhvania and other influential ‘citizens’ several days before the party meeting. It might be a simple coincidence, but the rumors about the failure of internal dialogue emerged right after the consultations with the President.

However, it is unknown if Shevardnadze has to do nothing with existing conflict within the party. Anyways, supporters of Zhvania and Mamaladze accused each other in violating the agreement exactly one day before the meeting. Result of all this would be a loud meeting, which would end with defeat of one of the teams.
On December 21 the situation returned to ‘pre-agreement’ condition. “We will have to revise our action program during the meeting” – Surmanidze says – “The meeting will adopt a special decision for the party to have only one parliamentary representation which would bear the party name”. Today ‘citizens’ are spread into 4 different factions and some of them oppose each other. Few months ago these factions were the Parliamentary majority.

Main issue of the meeting is the introduction of amendments into the party’s charter, according to which the structural reorganization of the party should be implemented. After Shevardnadze resignation from the party chairmanship, this post remains vacant. However there is not any ‘citizen’ to be appointed to this post by the party. So it is much more likely that the post will be eliminated and 7 or 9 member-strong political council will manage the party.

Representative from each ‘citizen’ group will be in the council. However, this decision must be regarded as a transitional measure, because the balance of power will not be beneficial for any of the groups. On December 21 Mamaladze called upcoming visit a transitional. He says that the meeting will elect an organizational committee, which would prepare the next party meeting. Mamaladze predicts that the next meeting will be held in May 2002, several months before the local self-governance elections.