Christodoulides refutes ‘dirty tricks’ campaign

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Independent candidate for President Nikos Christodoulides has pushed back accusations of underhanded tactics, including creating fake Facebook accounts, citing a smear campaign against him.

Talking at a pre-election rally in Polemidia, Limassol, Christodoulides claimed he is the target of a defamation campaign, which will only get worse as February’s election draws nearer.

He believes an organised campaign is aimed at slandering and deconstructing his character, ultimately bringing down his candidacy.

He told his supporters that his vision is to build a better Cyprus for the next generations, offering all citizens a better life standard.

The Presidential candidate argued that to do so, “we must continue to work tirelessly, together to overcome the very toxic climate which certain people are deliberately cultivating to disorient us, to divide the people, creating polarisation”.

The issue arose after Christodoulides’ former social media manager, Manolis Kyriacou, blew the whistle on the candidate’s alleged underhand methods, including fake social media accounts used to launch attacks on politicians and journalists.

In an extensive interview with Politis newspaper, Kyriacou claimed that Christodoulides had personally asked him to set up four fake social media accounts to promote his candidacy.

As he said, Christodoulides had instructed him to use the fake accounts to undermine rival candidates and journalists who were seen as hostile to his presidential bid.

Accusations hurled at journalists included claims of them being on another candidate’s ‘payroll’.

Kyriacou had also said that Christodoulides had been actively campaigning on the sly while still serving as foreign minister under current President Nicos Anastasiades.

He said their falling-out happened shortly after Christodoulides announced his candidacy in May.

Kyriacou said that Christodoulides had decided to run for President around August 2021 while still foreign minister.

Christodoulides quit the government in February 2022.

Centre-right DIKO-backed Christodoulides is the frontrunner for the February 2023 Presidential Elections, as all opinion polls give him a commanding lead.

In the latest poll issued in August, Christodoulides leads with a 33.1% share of the vote, while a tight race is predicted between laggers — AKEL-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis and ruling DISY’s chief Averof Neophytou.

Mavroyiannis appears to have the support of just 12.5% of voters despite enjoying the backing of the main opposition party AKEL which obtained 22.34% in the last parliamentary elections.

Not far behind, Neophytou is third with 11.9%, despite enjoying the support of President Anastasiades.