UNM-led Bloc Enters Parliament

Lawmakers of the United National Movement-led Strength in Unity bloc arrived today at the Parliament, taking up their mandates following some seven-months-long boycott of the legislature.

The latest entrants to the Parliament were expected to attend during today’s plenary session the second hearing of the amnesty bill, tabled by the ruling Georgian Dream party. But the UNM MPs arrived during the recess, by the time the ruling Georgian Dream legislators had postponed the hearing, citing the largest opposition party’s absence.

The UNM MPs took up their seats after the recess, with party Chair Nika Melia planning to deliver a statement, but the session was wrapped up before he got the chance to speak.

MP Melia said today’s developments in the legislature showed the Parliament has no chairperson, and that the Georgian Dream’s parliamentarians are “captives” controlled by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the ruling party founder.

Khatia Dekanoidze, UNM MP, argued Georgian Dream lawmakers were afraid of their forthcoming plenary remarks. “They did not want to see us here,” she said, adding that “there will be a session tomorrow, and on the day after as well, be it a committee [hearing] or a plenary [session], they will have to listen to us.”

According to MP Dekanoidze, besides the amnesty bill, which the UNM opposes, a second hearing was scheduled today for another widely controversial legislative package, which envisages stripping boycotting parties of state funding and includes measures perceived to be targetted at the UNM.

On the other side of the aisle, senior Georgian Dream lawmaker Shalva Papuashvili, the ruling party’s PR secretary, stated that the UNM is apparently on track to continue its “destructive agenda,” citing the major opposition party’s refusal to sign EU-brokered April 19 accord and the continued presence of protest tents outside the legislature.

MP Mamuka Mdinaradze of the Georgian Dream said the ruling party was not aware ahead of time of UNM Chair Melia’s intention of delivering a statement. “If they wanted to make political statements, political statements begin at 12 o’clock every Tuesday,” the senior GD lawmaker said. “The Parliament has its own agenda,” remarked MP Mdinaradze.

The UNM decided to enter the Parliament on May 30, as the majority of the opposition parties that passed the 1% threshold of the 2020 October general vote had already taken up their seats. But The largest opposition party refrained to sign the EU-brokered April 19 deal, citing among others the controversial amnesty clause in the deal over the events during June 19-20, 2019, anti-occupation protests.

Along with UNM, Law and Justice party chairperson Tako Charkviani also entered the Parliament today, bringing the total number of sitting MPs in the legislature to 148 out of 150. Labor party leader Shalva Natelashvili and Elene Khoshtaria of the Droa movement still refuse to take up their mandates.

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NB: The article was updated, comments by MP Melia and MP Papuashvili were added.

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