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Parties accuse government of partisan SGO appointments

Successful candidates for the boards of semi-government organisations (SGOs) were not chosen from political party lists, but were appointed based on their academic qualifications and experience, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Thursday.

Papadopoulos defended President Nicos Anastasiades’ and the cabinet’s choice of board members for the SGOs following criticism from the opposition that the appointments were the result of party politics.

“For the first time in many years, the president did not receive lists from any political party and did not choose candidates from party lists for the appointments in SGOs,” Papadopoulos told state broadcaster CyBC.

The cabinet on Wednesday named 162 appointees to 14 SGOs and five other bodies for the next three and a half years, and ratified the appointments on Thursday.

Changes

Papadopoulos said that there have been two changes. Due to legal reasons, Elena Kelepeshi who was initially appointed as board member at the Council for the Registration and Control of Contractors, was on Thursday appointed at the board of the Licensing Authority.  Margarita Danou, who was initially appointed at the Licensing Authority’s board, is to take Kelepeshi’s place at the contractors’ council.

In addition, Panikos Argyrides was appointed as board member of the Land Development Organisation, in the place of Christos Karydis.

The terms of the SGO boards expired on June 30, but a decision on the new appointments was delayed due to the crisis over the recent Solea fires as well as President Anastasiades’ attendance of a European Council Summit discussing the Brexit referendum.

No negotiations took place with political parties, Papadopoulos said.

“The president has chosen from over 460 applications, by people who wished to serve in the boards of SGOs,” Papadopoulos said.

He added that for the posts candidates that ran in May’s parliamentary elections were excluded as well as civil servants, with the exception of some cases, where the law provides that some board members of a number of SGOs must come from specific ministries.

“A large number of board members retained their posts as it was deemed that they should remain there and continue their tasks,” Papadopoulos said.

Parties react

Main opposition AKEL said that as regards the new appointments, “the government painted the new boards with blue,” referring to the main colour of the ruling party DISY.

“Even as regards the boards of some organisations where there should be consensus, such as state universities, the rulers chose to proceed almost unilaterally,” an AKEL announcement said. “The government, once again preferred to serve DISY rather than the public interest”.

The Greens said that even though this time there were no lists from political parties involved, “the government should not brag that there were not based on partisan criteria”.

The postponements and delays in the announcement of the appointees, the party said, indicate there were back stage negotiations, “while it is clear that the choices made refer to the control of the organisations by the Presidential Palace and Pindaros Street (DISY headquarters’ address) even if they deny that”.

The Citizens’ Alliance blamed the government for “partisan mentality”.

The Solidarity Movement said it was baffled as to how did those who expressed interest for the SGOs’ posts knew how to go about as regards their application, as there was no public call for expression of interest by the Presidential Palace.



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