By Jean Christou
Socialist EDEK’s deputy leader Marinos Sizopoulos and first vice president Giorgos Varnava on Monday formally submitted their candidacies to run for party leader in elections to be held on March 1.
An election is being held following the resignation last month of former party leader and House President Yiannakis Omirou.
On Monday, Sizopoulos and Varnava submitted their candidacy to the secretary of the Party`s Central Committee Chrysos Touloupis.
Speaking afterwards, Varnava said that on March 1 the members of EDEK should decide who would be best to help heal party wounds.
“For that reason, I call on the members of EDEK to trust me, so that on March 1 we can move along and successfully face the challenges, which are the upcoming parliamentary elections [in 2016] and the major problems of Cyprus,” he said.
Sizopoulos expressed hope that the first day of spring would mark the starting point for the renewal of EDEK. The main aim was for the party to remain loyal to its ideological and political history, he said, “and to become a more a demanding and more decisive political power”, especially during the difficult conditions Cyprus was facing, politically and economically.
Sizopoulos called on party members to go to the polls and vote for the candidate they considered could best represent them and their vision of EDEK.
“Everyone must fight for a new EDEK. March 2 will be the beginning of a new path and everyone should keep in mind that our goals should to be forward looking, keeping in mind the parliamentary elections in 2016,” he added.
To replace him as deputy president of the party, Sizopoulos nominated Costis Efstathiou, Costakis Avraamides, Andreas Philippides, Marietta Charalambides, Giorgos Taliadoros, Socratis Socrates, Constantinos Giorgallis, Maria Kyprianou, Leonidas Panayiotou and Giorgos Nicolaou.
Varnava nominated as first vice president Loizos Ioannou, Takis Ktoris, Christakis Soteriou, Antonis Antoniou, Loucas Kekkou, Michalis Theodoulou, Petros Voutouris, Andreas Omirou, Fotis Theofanous and Vassilis Nicolaou.
All has not been well within EDEK for some time. Omirou had been at the helm of EDEK since 2001 when he took over from the party founder and leader Vassos Lyssarides. When Omirou resigned last month he said he had been constantly undermined within the party.
A third possible candidate for party leader, former MEP Koullis Mavronikolas, changed his mind earlier this month, saying he could not in good conscience take part in a process he deeply disagreed with. Mavronikolas said that instead of striving for unity, the party was forging ahead with a race for leadership that did not address the many problems it was facing but was trying to sweep them under the rug.
The party was also shaken by the fact that one of its members, former Paphos Mayor Fidias Sarikas was implicated by one of six people on trial in the town’s sewerage board scandal. He was questioned by police for five hours last week after the Supreme Court lifted his parliamentary immunity. Sarikas, who is chairman of the House Ethics Committee, dismisses the allegations made against him.