EDEK chairman Yiannakis Omirou resigned on Tuesday, saying he had been undermined from inside the party.
Omirou said he refused to fuel what he observed in recent months in the form of whispers, personal strategies, and undermining.
Nor did he want to contribute to their continuation, he said in a letter to the party brass.
“In no way would I want my presence at the leadership of EDEK either to facilitate or perpetuate such a bad climate.”
Omirou said his decision was final.
“I am sorry to note that those who instigated this pitiful blackmail would have easily determined, through a cursory study of my history, that I can neither be blackmailed, nor do I compromise with humiliation for the sake of maintaining or securing positions or offices.”
His resignation followed a letter from the party’s organisational secretary, Yiannos Efstathiou in October, which described the situation in the party as problematic and suggested that Omirou was responsible.
As a way of tackling the problem, Efstathiou asked Omirou not to run as an MP for Nicosia in 2016, and not to contest the leadership of the party in the next congress.
Efstathiou asked for his proposals to be discussed by the party brass and threatened to resign if they were not, something he did on January 5.
Omirou said he had told Efstathiou that announcing his intention not to run for the party leadership would be damaging for EDEK as it would have a chairman with an expiry date.
Not running in Nicosia would also hurt the party as its chairman would appear to be confined.
Omirou said it would have been more honest for Efstathiou to ask for the chairman’s resignation directly.
“Unfortunately, the aim and the associated risks are obvious. (It is) the creation of a climate of introversion, at a critical period for Cyprus no less, which needs a strong and united EDEK with clear and common political language,” Omirou said.
The 63-year-old politician has been at the helm of EDEK since 2001. His resignation follows a crushing defeat at the Paphos mayoral by-election on Sunday where his party aligned with AKEL and DIKO.
There are also allegations implicating EDEK officials in a major corruption scandal.
The party also had internal problems during the 2013 presidential elections and the European Parliament elections last year.
EDEK holds five of the 56 seats in parliament where Omirou is president.
His resignation came as a surprise, at least for some.
Deputy chairman Marinos Sizopoulos said he found out of the resignation from the media.
“This is an additional difficulty for EDEK,” he said.
According to its charter, the party must hold elections to replace Omirou within 40 days.
The parliamentary group urge Omirou to withdraw his resignation and lead the party to an election congress.
Flanked by colleagues Roulla Mavronikola and Nicos Nicolaides, MP Giorgos Varnava told the media in parliament that the outgoing chairman’s announcement highlighted the many problems that plagued the party in recent times.
Varnava said the group understood how the chairman felt but at this critical juncture for EDEK, Omirou had a decisive role in the effort to reform the movement.