Three new ministers were sworn in on Friday, amid reports that President Anastasiades has decided to appoint former education minister Kyriacos Kenevezos and former defence minister Photis Photiou ambassador to Greece and presidential aide respectively.
As DIKO members, the two, along with former health minister Petros Petrides, fell victim to this week’s cabinet reshuffle, which was triggered when the party’s leadership decided to withdraw from the government coalition – to which they were junior partners – citing disagreement over the terms agreed by Anastasiades for the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus problem.
They were replaced by Costas Kadis, who took the education portfolio, Marios Demetriades, who will head the communications ministry, and Philippos Patsalis, assigned the health ministry.
Former communications minister Tasos Mitsopoulos was re-assigned the defence ministry.
Fourth DIKO member, Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis remained in his post. He resigned from DIKO earlier this month.
Speaking at the affirmation ceremony on Friday, Anastasiades implied he had been forced to acceptthe resignation of the DIKO ministers.
“I admit being faced with torturing dilemmas that pitted constitutional obligations and political ethics against human feelings towards esteemed associates,” he said, adding that in the end “personal feelings had to take a backseat to the duty of being president, and in the interest of preserving unity I was saddened to accept the resignation of three close and esteemed associates.”
DIKO’s decision to exit was heavily criticised by an extremely vocal fraction within the party, which included the four ministers, stirring up talk of “two DIKOs”, one aligning with the official leadership of Nicolas Papadopoulos and another rallying behind his predecessor Marios Garoyian – who had forged the alliance with Anastasiades when he held the party’s reins.
Perhaps hoping to retain their posts, the four ministers broke party ranks shortly after the decision to leave the government was ratified and waived their party membership in protest, with former health minister Petrides claiming that Anastasiades had confided in him a few days before the reshuffle was announced that he was “considering keeping the cabinet intact.” He later retracted the assertion.
Despite initial reports that Anastasiades would keep all four DIKO ministers, reports claimed a last-minute intervention by DISY leader Averof Neophytou changed things, leading to the removal of Kenevezos, Photiou and Petrides.
However, speculation was rife on Friday that Anastasiades has decided to appoint Kenevezos to the Athens embassy and add Photiou to his team of aides at the presidential palace.