Mikhail Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who restarted his political career in Ukraine, has announced the launch of a new Ukrainian political party and called for early elections just days after resigning his governor’s post in Odesa.
Saakashvili repeated accusations that rampant profiteering and obstacles to reform are hurting Ukraine, which remains divided two years after Russia seized Crimea and Moscow-backed separatists began fighting against Kiev’s authority.
“We will create a new broad political power, a platform of new forces, and our goal is to change the present, existing, so-called political elite, who are actually profiteers and social misfits,” Saakashvili promised.
“Our goal is for early parliamentary elections to be carried out as quickly as possible,” Saakashvili said.
He again lashed out at Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a former schoolmate whom Saakashvili accused of sabotaging reform efforts in the Black Sea port region when Saakashvili unexpectedly quit the Odesa governorship on November 7.
Saying he once refused Poroshenko’s offer of the post of prime minister, Saakashvili vowed not to meet with the president again until the latter agreed to early elections.
Poroshenko accepted Saakashvili’s resignation earlier last week and suggested that the latter’s political ambitions in Ukraine were stoked by a thumping that Saakashvili’s former party received in Georgian elections last month.
Saakashvili, who now has Ukrainian citizenship, dared Poroshenko at a press conference to kick him out of the country.
Saakashvili — whose reforms in postcommunist Georgia following its so-called Rose Revolution in 2003 won widespread international praise — said his new party would fight for Ukrainian business but oppose the presence of business representatives in politics.
He also said his party would refuse membership to anyone who has served in parliament for more than one term, which could exclude many in the political elite at the time of Ukraine’s Euromaidan unrest in 2013-14.