IS THERE any chance that the police command would ever announce promotions in the force without sparking accusations of nepotism from opposition parties? The answer is ‘no’. It is something that has never happened and never will, because everyone works on the assumption that nepotism is endemic and that every government favours its ‘own’ when deciding promotions. In fact, an opposition party is convinced there is favouritism because when it was in power it was its main criterion for promotions.
Hypocrisy reigns supreme and it is the reason why it is so difficult, if not impossible, to take these accusations seriously. They are a parody of Cyprus politics that is not even funny any longer. What the parties that make these accusations seem incapable of understanding is that they bring politics into disrepute, reinforcing what people always thought – meritocracy is not the primary concern of the political parties and any claim to the contrary is hollow rhetoric.
This did not stop Akel from engaging in this time-honoured practice, with Christos Christofides claiming that in the last few years meritocracy in police promotions was “replaced by party expediencies of those in power.” The assumption that when Demetris Christofias was president there was meritocracy in the police force is absurd. Akel is complaining about the latest promotions not because of a lack of meritocracy, but because not enough of its own officers were promoted. Disy did the same during the Christofias presidency, for the exact same reasons. The farce must go on.
Nepotism in the force could be tackled if the police command was given more powers and the politicians – minister of justice and president – were kept at arm’s length. Of course, there would have to be a reliable and objective evaluation system in place so that promotions were based exclusively on performance. Akel, which considers union values sacrosanct, would not even agree to this because it considers seniority the main criterion for promotion; it mentioned this in its latest criticism of the government. We suspect Disy would not agree either to the police command taking complete control of promotions, because this would undermine the clientelism on which all parties depend for attracting support.
In fairness, the situation has improved to an extent and gone are the days of the Kyprianou presidency when all senior positions in the force were occupied by card-carrying Diko members. There is now more public scrutiny of government decisions and some attempt is therefore made to create an impression of meritocracy, but there is still a long way to go. As long as politicians interfere in police promotions, we will keep hearing the same accusations every year.