The Democratic Party (DIKO) suffered another blow on Monday after three more cabinet ministers shunned their party leadership, despite the order for them to leave office by the end of this week, following the centre-right party’s withdrawal as a junior member of the governing coalition.
Already, Energy and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, considered by opinions polls as the most popular cabinet member due to his business-like handling of natural gas exploration and export potentials, quit the party ten days ago in a bid to keep his post.
Defence and Education ministers Photis Photiou and Kyriakos Kenevezos announced they were suspending their party activities, but stopped short of resigning from DIKO altogether. However, Health Minister Petros Petrides took it a step further and quit “the party I have served since establishment in 1976.”
Dr Petrides echoed the criticism leveled by all three at the party’s new leader, Nicolas Papadopoulos, who won a thin majority at the central committee last month to leave the coalition as it disagreed with President Nicos Anastasiades who restarted Cyprus reunification talks and issued a joint declaration with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
Anastasiades had asked the four cabinet ministers, proposed a year ago by DIKO’s ousted leader Marios Garoyian, to stay on until he proceeded with a reshuffle some time this week.
However, Papadopoulos remained committed to the party line of supporting the administration in a privatisation bill passed through the House of Representatives that ensured parliamentary oversight and labour participation in any decision regarding the sell-off of state-owned enterprises in an effort to reduce public spending and increase revenues.
The telco Cyta is the first that is expected to be fully or partly privatised by late-2015 or early 2016, while the power utility EAC and the Ports Authority should also undergo change by 2018, when the state is expected to earn about 1.4 bln euros as part of the widespread reforms imposed by the ‘troika’ of international lenders that offered a 10 bln euro bailout to bankrupt Cyprus.
In his highly critical letter, Photiou said that the party leader “is not up to date with DIKO’s policies, confirmed by his actions against the (four) ministers who hail from the party. The actions to split and undermine political stability should not be used to satisfy personal ambitions.”
In a similar tone, Kenevezos said that “now more than ever, the party should remain united and participate in efforts to solve the (Cyprus) problem by defending the interests of the Greek Cypriots. Instead, the path of denial and rejection was chosen,” adding that “the marginal decision to withdraw from the coalition proved hasty and completely disregarded the geostrategic developments” in the eastern Mediterranean area.
On his part, Nicolas Papadopoulos, son of the late president Tassos Papadopoulos who led the ‘No’ campaign in the 2004 referendum to reunite the island as a federal, bizonal, bicommunal state, justified DIKO’s pullout from the ruling coalition, as he said President Anastasiades “has cancelled his pre-election commitment to DIKO and this should be accepted by all.”
Papadopoulos said that “DIKO is not represented by the state positions and chairs, but by its principles and history.”
Following the decision to abandon the coalition with Anastasiades’s Democratic Rally last month, other DIKO officials also quit their posts, including the chairmen of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus, as well as the Housing Finance Corporation, a state body that assists low-income families to acquire a first home.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE