CUG Revives with Hopes of Success as Zhvania says it has no Future

The former ruling party fights to regain the status. The Citizens’ Union of Georgia (CUG) prepares for winning next Presidential and Parliamentary elections. These two main goals were announced on the fifth extraordinary assembly of the party on June 29, which became a first assembly after Zhvania’s reformers wing was forced out of the CUG and the pro-Presidential group took over the party.

“We must win in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. These are two ultimate goals. Shevardnadze will leave the President’s post when his term is over. I still have two-and-a-half year time. I will achieve many things in this period,” Shevardnadze said in his speech, addresses to the party assembly.

“From Confrontation to Cooperation” – this was a slogan for the assembly, during which, as it was anticipated, the State Minister Avtandil Jorbenadze was elected a Party Chairman. President Shevardnadze, who has been chairing the party from its establishment to last September, this time, was elected to the symbolic post of Honorary Chairman.

According to the words of the new chairman Avtandil Jorbenadze, the Party found itself in very difficult situation, but it has to make it best to rise again. President Shevardnadze stated that he decided to revive the party, after the radical forces won in June 2 Local Elections referring to the Labor Party and the National Movement.

The State Minister launched active recruitment to the resurrected party. He did everything to have several ministers with uncorrupt public image in the party. Finance Minister Mirian Gogiashvili (former chairman of the Anticorruption Council) is one of those. Jorbenadze has definitely become Shevardnadze’s favorite. President mentioned that he regards Jorbenadze as his successor on the Presidential post.

From 1995 to 2001 the Citizens Union was a ruling political force, serving as President’s supporting base in the Parliament as well. But since rift between the President and the reformers’ wing in the party has become apparent, Shevardnadze chose to stay away from the party’s activities and internal confrontations and stepped down from the chairmanship last September. Groups, detached from the party, have created several influential political unions, such as Mikheil Saakashvili’s “National Movement”, Levan Gachechiladze’s and David Gamkrelidze’s “New Rights Party”.

The former Parliamentary Chairman Zurab Zhvania tried until the very end to maintain control over the party it, but after several appeals to the court, the reformers’ opponents forced Zhvania’s team to leave the CUG. Very recently Zhvania created own party – “United Democrats”. Zhvania says the party is the “harsh opposition of the government.”

Former “Citizens” and current opposition politicians think the revived CUG has no future. “This is more like trying to revive the Communist Party, rather than the Citizens Union. I do not think that the party will achieve any success, since it is uniting with purpose to support the government,” Zurab Zhvania said on July 1 briefing.

Zhvania does not perceive the CUG as a competitor of the “United Democrats.” He believes that the CUG will be mostly competing the “New Rights” and the “Industrialists,” because these are the parties, as Zhvania thinks, who chose pro-governmental posture during the June 2 local elections.

By Giorgi Sepashvili, Civil Georgia