Sending political shockwaves, Cyprus centre-right Democratic Party (DIKO) saw three of its 10 MPs, two senior officials walk out in defiance to form their own parliamentary group on Tuesday.
The sudden announcement followed a meeting of President Nicos Anastasiades and the party leaders to discuss recent political developments.
The three opposition MPs, Angelos Votsis, Marinos Mousiouttas, George Prokopiou announced their withdrawal from a party in a joint letter to DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos.
Also splitting rank are the party’s vice president Alecos Tryfonides and Christos Tsingis, a member of the central committee.
The disgruntled ex-party members said: “This is a decision we take with responsibility and consistency with our principles, philosophy, ideology and history and is based on purely political reasons.”
“Our disagreements are purely political, and they are fundamental disagreements.”
They claimed they were targeted within the party and repeatedly marginalised.
They said that they would form a separate group in parliament and continue to represent their constituents.
“We are taking the initiative to create a political platform that will be addressed to all citizens who embrace the ideological position of the broader centre.
This was, after all, the mandate given to us by the electorate, to serve their interests and to help our country move forward.”
The five ex-DIKO members also expressed their discontent with Papadopoulos’ leadership noting when he took over almost seven years ago, some believed there was a will for change, and they were willing to give it time.
The group also argued that wider political issues such as the economy and the Cyprus issue had been shelved.
They argued that their party had lost its legacy, becoming “the tail of government and a spectator of developments and in so doing losing its political stature”.
“This is definitely not DIKO,” the letter said.
DIKO issued a rebuttal describing the five as “deserters serving the plans of those who have been undermining DIKO, annoyed by the correctness of the Party’s positions and by its insistence on an assertive policy on the Cyprus issue and for protecting the middle class”.
Centrist DIKO was the third-largest party electing 10 MPs at the last parliamentary elections garnering 14.49% of the vote in 2016.
Next parliamentary elections in Cyprus are planned for May 2021.