Attorney General steps down early in protest

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Following the debacle over his retirement date, Attorney General Costas Clerides tendered his resignation on Friday in an act of protest over the way he was treated, citing pressure for him to go early.

Clerides tendered his resignation to President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday with the government announcing soon after that it would expedite the swearing-in ceremony of the new Attorney General, George Savvides, and his deputy Savvas Angelides, on Monday, earlier than initially scheduled.

Cyprus’ new Attorney General and his deputy were to be sworn in on 10 July, but incumbent Attorney General Costas Clerides objected.

He claimed that his term did not technically finish until the end of July.

Clerides was to take the remainder of his annual leave before retiring but claimed that he was not able to do so as there is no deputy general attorney to cover him in his absence.

He was expected to retire on 8 July, when he turned 68, which is the retirement age for an Attorney General. But Clerides argued that the law states he is entitled to retire at the end of that month.

“When I was asked to depart on retirement leave before the age of 68, I addressed the Finance Minister and the President of the Republic, explaining the reasons for which I had not used the leave I was entitled to,” Clerides said.

He had also stated that he would not be stepping down until the end of the month, rubbishing suggestions he had sought to extend his tenure by around a month for financial gain.

Clerides had pledged to give any income earned from serving his annual leave to the anti-cancer council.

In his letter of resignation, the outgoing Attorney General reiterated that he has had a turbulent seven-year tenure as attorney-general, marked by a variety of difficulties and adversities.

“Unfortunately, even the issue of the exact date of my retirement has been used to tarnish my reputation due to manipulation as well as pressure that has been exerted and is being exerted,” he argued in his letter of resignation.

“The mockery and attempt to reduce and attribute cheap motivation to my actions continue. I am not prepared to continue to suffer this exhausting process.

It is a matter of dignity for me and my family. As I took this position and I tried to perform my duties throughout this period with dignity, it is with dignity that I am departing from office.”

President Nicos Anastasiades has expressed his discontent over what he called, “the unnecessary dimensions the issue of Clerides’ date of retirement has taken”.

He said there would have been no problem if Clerides had opted to remain as AG until 31 July.

Cyprus’ new Attorney General and his Deputy will be sworn in on Monday at 11.30 am.

As a result of Anastasiades’ choice to appoint two former ministers at the head of Cyprus’ legal services, and in combination with Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis stepping down, the new ministers will also be sworn in on Monday.

The mini reshuffle will find lawyer Emily Yiolitis as the new Justice Minister, and incumbent Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides taking over the key Energy Ministry.

Aglandjia mayor Charalambos Petrides, a Cambridge graduate, was handed the Defence portfolio.

The shipping ministry was given to Vasilis Demetriades, a shipping expert serving at the EU.