New Health, Justice ministers in mini-reshuffle

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President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday announced the much-anticipated mini reshuffle, introducing a few new faces, despite his declared wish to create a government of wider acceptance following a series of corruption scandals.

Anastasiades was essentially forced to speed up the mini-reshuffle following the no-holds-barred resignation last week of Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis and Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou’s long-expressed wish to step down.

The new appointees include candidates who didn’t make the cut in the 30 May parliamentary elections, a former football club chairman, moving two officials from the Presidential Palace to new posts, and the sole female appointment, a lawyer who takes charge at Justice.

Taking over at the Health Ministry amid the worst health crisis of the century is chartered accountant Michalis Hadjipantelas.

Meanwhile, lawyer Stephie Drakou, the former insurance superintendent, will take the helm at the Justice Ministry.

Outgoing Ioannou indicated his wish to leave the ministry and politics in general, having twice asked the President to let him walk away.

Ioannou’s professional experience is in hospitality and management and the Gloria Jeans franchise owner in Cyprus.

Hadjipantelas, on the other hand, is a chartered accountant and CEO of the auditing firm HMI & Partners Ltd.

In addition, he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

He was vice-president of the Cyprus Electricity Authority (EAC), chairman of the board of Nicosia Mall and was also the chairman of Anorthosis FC in 2013.

Hadjipantelas was not the President’s first choice.

Anastasiades had offered the position to former House speaker and AKEL MP Adamos Adamou, who declined at the last moment after pressure from his party.

“After a lot of thought and considering potential wrong impressions regarding my political consistency and wanting to remain loyal to the principles that characterise me from the first moment of my involvement in politics, I decided not to accept Mr Anastasiades’ proposal,” Adamou said in a statement.

Drakou spent her professional career in the insurance sector, also serving as the industry’s commissioner.

She was General Manager of Laiki Asfalistiki until 2007 and became General Manager of the Association of Cyprus Insurance Companies (SAEK).

She is a founding member of the Insurance Institute.

With Drakou’s appointment, the female presence in the cabinet remains at three.

In an unprecedented show of rebellion, Yiolitis resigned as Justice Minister accusing President Anastasiades of “insulting behaviour” in trying to undermine her work as he pushed 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.

Ruling DISY member and a candidate at May’s parliamentary elections, Marios Pelekanos, replaces Kyriacos Koushios as government spokesman while Chamber of Commerce and Industry PR and communications executive Niovi Parisinou is deputy spokesperson.

Another DISY candidate who did not succeed in the parliamentary elections, Andreas Iosif, takes over as director of the President’s press office.

The post was held by Victoras Papadopoulos, who will deal with Cyprus problem information issues at the foreign ministry.

Deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas is the new commissioner for volunteerism. The position has been renamed commissioner for the citizen.

Sentonas takes over after the former commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki resigned over allegations of forging his academic qualifications.

News of the cabinet’s reshuffle was given by outgoing spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos, who asked about his future plans, said he would no longer hold a post in the government.

“I have to say that the President offered me a position to stay in government, but I chose to leave,” said Koushos.

The new ministers, and other appointees, will assume their duties on 1 July.