Greens get new leader, campaign to elect first mayor

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The Cyprus Green Party has elected TEPAK professor and former Environment Commissioner Theopemptou Charalambos as its new leader with all eyes on the race for Aglandjia mayor.

He replaced, unopposed, MP George Perdikis who decided to step aside after two decades – on and off – as the head.

Academic Theopemptou, widely considered as mild-mannered and a moderate, managed to win a second parliamentary seat for the first time in the party’s history.

It had only elected Perdikis to the House of Representatives in the past.

Dealing primarily with environmental issues, gender equality, animal rights and improving engagement with society, especially among younger voters, the party aims to do just as well in the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2021.

A testing ground for the party’s new leadership will be in a week’s time when Green Party deputy president Efi Xanthou will run as a stand-alone candidate for mayor of Aglandjia.

The office was vacated when Charalambos Petrides was appointed Minister of Defence in a cabinet reshuffle on July 1.

If elected, she will become the first female ecologist mayor in Cyprus, greatly improving the party’s awareness among the public.

Speaking on state radio CyBC on Monday, Xanthou said the party tried to reason with other candidates to avoid splitting votes but did not find any common ground with the remaining four running for office.

She already won praise for standing her ground on issues of racism, when she refused to attend a hastily organised protest against setting up a reception centre for 50 vulnerable asylum seekers on the premises of a recently closed psychiatric clinic, near Athalassa park.

The centre, on the grounds of the former Palladium clinic, will provide shelter mostly to children and abused women, and does not need a special permit because of the infrastructure and status of its previous use.

Participating in the protest organised by the far-right Elam party, were two other mayoral candidates, municipal councillor Andreas Constantinou supported by the ruling Democratic Rally (Disy) and Diko candidate Costas Kortas, backed by the communist-Akel party.

The campaign alleged that the shelter should not operate at the proposed location because the building is adjacent to Athalassa Park which “is very important for the national security of the whole of Cyprus”.

The repair cost and 22-month operation of the centre is a project approved through the Home Affairs Funds of the Ministry of Interior and co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus, by 90% and 10%, respectively.