Something is rotten in the state of Cyprus

4 mins read

The fallout from Emily Yiolitis’ resignation as Justice Minister and her “take no prisoners” letter, accusing President Anastasiades of undermining her work, will reverberate and impact next week’s anticipated cabinet reshuffle.

According to Yiolitis, the President lost all confidence in his minister, despite her brief service (appointed 29 June 2020), claiming her the “weakest link” in his administration, tarnishing his own image.

The President did not need any help in destroying reputations. He seems to have managed quite well on his own.

Yiolitis’ appointment now looks like a poor error of judgment.

By taking legal action against a senior professor at TEPAK in Limassol and then initiating a police search of the home of a teacher, allegedly the operator of a Twitter parody account, Yiolitis seems to have exceeded her boundaries as a public servant.

As a private individual, insulted by others’ comments, she would have every right to pursue any avenue necessary to defend her reputation.

Was the former minister fed up with the bureaucracy and the rigid ‘establishment’ that she took upon herself to push through reforms that would make justice more attainable?

Bringing several reform packages to the House, prompting MPs to approve them overnight as a matter of urgency, without taking their time to read it through, suggests that perhaps some people may have wanted the minister to fail.

Perhaps, she was deemed expendable, despite her close ties to the Anastasiades family.

Unfortunately, the timing of handing in her resignation was not the best.

A few days earlier, the Attorney General exonerated all police officers accused of negligence in the serial killer case, where an army NCO murdered seven foreign women, with the police doing little in the timely investigation of the matter.

Social media comments suggested that Yiolitis would have won greater esteem if she had resigned over disagreement on dropping the prosecutions, considering the Attorney General’s deteriorating relationship with journalists.

Society has already lost faith in the police, exacerbated by anti-terror units’ excessive show of force in recent clashes with a peaceful anti-Anastasiades and anti-corruption demonstration.

So, how is it that Yiolitis tarnished the President’s image?

Corruption is a stain that the current administration will carry.

With the President halfway through his second (and last) term, he seems to be taking a step back and looking to serve the interests of friends and political allies.

Just as he seemed offended by the public outcry aimed at Yiolitis a few months ago, insisting he appointed her (and subsequently took responsibility), the President ought to have insisted his justice minister stayed to usher through much-needed reforms.

Then again, the more ambitious public sector reforms have not materialised, despite being initiated at the beginning of his first term in office from 2013.

A simple cabinet reshuffle will not repair the administration’s credibility or the people’s trust.

And a single person cannot be blamed for the government’s failings, shortcomings or misdeeds.