By Constantinos Psillides
THE new composition of the Cabinet caused friction on various fronts on Thursday.
President Nicos Anastasiades re-appointed Giorgos Lakkotrypis as energy minister after the latter resigned from DIKO but he failed to bring on board the other three – Fotis Fotiou, Petros Petrides and Kyriakos Kenevezos – who broke ties with the party on Monday, clearly with the aim of remaining in the cabinet.
Instead Anastasiades appointed another card-carrying DIKO member, Marios Demetriades as communications and works minister. DIKO had already warned that the move constituted a hostile act. Ruling DISY was not pleased either.
On Thursday, Petrides let loose on DISY leader Averof Neophytou and at DIKO chief Nicolas Papadopoulos who fired back and then he himself fired a volley at Anastasiades.
Petrides, who was the former health minister and had actually resigned from DIKO – unlike the other two who merely distanced themselves – in the wake of the coalition withdrawal, accused Papadopoulos of working against the party’s decision to support Anastasiades in the 2013 presidential elections.
Talking on CyBC radio, Petrides said those within Papadopoulos’ circle had asked him to support Giorgos Lillikas, now leader of the Citizen’s Alliance Movement, in the first election round, and Stavros Malas, the AKEL candidate, in the second.
“I don’t want to copy the practices and methods of the current leader of DIKO. He polarised the party when he disagreed with the party decisions. When you disagree with the party majority on major issues then you leave. That’s the rules of politics. I won’t do what the current DIKO leader did in 2013 when the party supported one candidate and he was working for that candidate’s opponents. He worked systematically against a party decision,” Petrides said.
Papadopoulos responded, attributing Petrides’ comments to “bitterness because he didn’t get re-appointed”.
“Those who are dreaming of a DIKO split they can keep on dreaming,” he added.
Petrides also attacked DISY’s Neophytou, saying he was behind Anastasiades’ decision to not reappoint all four of the DIKO ministers.
When the three broke ties with the party on Monday, it was thought that they did so to make it easier for Anastasiades to re-appoint them, without making things worse with DIKO.
Petrides said he held no grudge against the president.
The former Health minister wasn’t the only one Papadopoulos clashed with on Thursday. The DIKO leader accused Anastasiades of interfering with DIKO internal politics and showing a “blatant disregard for the people of DIKO” when he re-appointed Lakkotrypis and Marios Demetriades.
Responding to a comment by deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos, who said on Wednesday that if DIKO really disagreed with the government it should ask its 42 members that were appointed to semi-government boards to resign, Papadopoulos said he was ready to discuss that provided Anastasiades rescinded the appointment of both Demetriades and Lakkotrypis.
The DIKO leader has accused the government of petty politics and trade-offs.
The deputy spokesman responded: “His [Papadopoulos’ proposal is a clear case of petty politics and trade-offs, and it’s offensive to the president.”
“Mr Lakkotrypis was reappointed as a matter of national interest because his removal from office would disrupt talks on the natural gas. As far as Mr Demetriades goes, he is an exceptional technocrat and that fact that he also had a DIKO membership didn’t count at all,” he added.
He repeated that if DIKO was genuinely in disagreement with the government then it should ask its SGO board members to resign.
The reason the DIKO leader didn’t want to do that was because he didn’t want to disrupt the balance in the party’s central committee.
DISY spokesman Prodromos Prodromou also responded to DIKO accusations. “It’s expected for people to have strong feelings on the subject. The president respects DIKO but the political system dictates that prominent people who can contribute to governmental work have to be utilised,” said Prodromou.
The main criterion the president applied was whether the people appointed had the necessary skills and qualifications.
Also responding to the criticism, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said that reaction by opposition parties was expected but asked them to judge the new cabinet based on results. “So they should wait and see, although in the one year of DISY governing the country was saved from bankruptcy and it’s on its way to reform and modernisation,” he said.