By Angelos Anastasiou
A proposal to bring former EDEK leader and House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou before the party’s disciplinary body so that he can explain his apparently rogue stance since leaving the helm earlier this year, was voted down at the political bureau, EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos confirmed on Tuesday.
Omirou, who had succeeded EDEK’s founder and first president Vasos Lyssarides in 2001, resigned his post in January, claiming he had been forced out but declining to name names, and remained a deputy for the socialist party while retaining the House speakership.
Since then, he has defied his party’s decisions and pursued his own agenda.
At a plenary vote last Thursday, a contentious government bill to allow the bundling and sale of loans by banks to third parties was passed with the narrowest of margins – a single vote – and all eyes turned to Omirou, who had not even shown up at the vote. Had he turned up and voted against – as EDEK had decided mid-week that its deputies should – the bill would not have made it through the House.
His excuse, it later transpired, had been President Nicos Anastasiades’ absence on an official trip to Malta. According to a long-standing parliamentary practice, if the President of the Republic is out of the country, the House Speaker – acting President – does not attend parliamentary sessions.
This was less than convincing, given that Omirou had not been as sensitive to this practice last April, when a similar issue came up at the plenary session that was scheduled to pass or reject a government bill on insolvency. Despite Anastasiades’ absence on an official trip abroad, Omirou had decided to chair the House session.
The perceived transgression was made worse by Omirou’s submission of a legislative proposal on Thursday for the offsetting of bank bonds with loans made against them without consulting with, or even informing, anyone at the party.
However, the House Speaker once again ignored an invitation to attend EDEK’s political bureau on Monday, which asked to be briefed by its deputies on Thursday’s vote, as he has done since being ousted in January.
This apparently caused some discontent among EDEK’s top echelons, and political bureau member Yiannos Efstathiou motioned that Omirou be summoned to the disciplinary committee to explain himself.
“The political bureau rejected the motion, because we don’t think this matter is best handled this way,” leader Sizopoulos told state radio on Tuesday.
“[The fact that he hasn’t shown up at any party organs since his resignation] is his own business. His failure to attend political bureau sessions, in which he has no voting rights, is not punishable. But failing to attend central committee meetings, where he has a vote, a certain number of times, will trigger the procedure for his replacement or striking off as a party member. And the rules will be followed.”
Sizopoulos added that Omirou’s decision to abstain the vote is nothing new, likening it to other deputies going to the toilet or staying outside parliamentary chambers during a vote they don’t want to take a position on. This was rumoured to have happened during a recent plenary vote on an especially controversial bill on civil partnerships.
“Do they face disciplinary hearings when they do that?” Sizopoulos wondered.
“Of course not.”