Justice Minister resigns before being pushed out

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In an unprecedented show of rebellion, Emily Yiolitis has resigned as Justice Minister accusing President Nicos Anastasiades of “insulting behaviour” in trying to undermine her work as he pushes for a reshuffle.

Yiolitis only appointed a year ago, said she decided to hand in her resignation amid continuing reports of a reshuffle in which she was presented as the “weakest link” in the administration.

The unhappy, outgoing minister made her letter of resignation public after claiming the President had made her position untenable while also damaging her reputation.

Yiolitis phoned President Anastasiades about her concern and, to her surprise, was told her “presence in the cabinet hurt the government’s image and him personally”.

Anastasiades also told his minister he was “paying the price” of her presence in the Cabinet due to her close relationship with his family and issues in the media.

Yiolitis was rebuked earlier in the year for allegedly trying to hunt down a Twitter parody account which led to police raiding a woman’s home raid where a computer and phone were confiscated.

The minister conceded police had acted “disproportionately” when looking into her complaint.

She filed a police complaint after an online tweet about her father, which she found offensive.

In her letter to Anastasiades, Yiolitis said it was “impossible” for her to remain in government in an explosive resignation outburst unheard of in secretive Cyprus politics.

Yiolitis argued her work was being undermined, as colleagues at the ministry had been asked if they had wanted to be moved to other posts.

The justice minister said she accepted the position at an extremely difficult time for the government due to the pandemic and tarnished reputation inflicted by corruption allegations.

Yiolitis said her participation in the government had harmed her image with consequences to her health.

“During my short stay at the Ministry, bills were promoted and approved that for years were in the drawers of the Ministry, including the bill on the Istanbul Convention, a child-friendly Criminal Justice system for minors,” she wrote.

She also established special task forces within the police to deal with domestic violence and sexual harassment cases.

“We pioneered the promotion of the #metoo movement in Cyprus by sending the message that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and dozens of cases were forwarded to the Legal Service and the courts, doing away with the previous practice of ‘immunity’ for priests and politicians.”

Yiolitis said that it was not the government or the President paying a political cost for her presence in the Cabinet, but it was rather the other way round.

“I have probably incurred a cost, and a heavy one, by accepting to partake in a government which, as you are well aware of, did not enjoy the best impressions from society on issues of corruption and transparency.”