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Our view: If the President is serious about combating corruption words are not enough

President Anastasiades

THERE was a great degree of superficiality in President Anastasiades’ exclusive comments to the CyBC about his plans to combat corruption in the police force and the public sector. In the absence of any other news on the public holiday, the comments must have been considered a Godsend by the media, which gave them more airplay than they merited.

Among other things, Anastasiades expressed his determination to take measures that would clean up the force. He said: “It is a pity for a force, which has so many successes to show, to be shamed in this way and for mistaken impressions to be created against honest officers by the minority of the corrupt.” He also sent, what was described as “a very clear message” to the criminal underworld – its end was coming.

Corruption, in the public sector, but mainly in the police force, was one of the problems the president would deal with immediately after the end of his summer holidays, it was reported. Pledges such as these, apart from their superficiality, imply that the president has no confidence or faith in the work being done by his minister of justice and public order or by the police chief. Just a couple of weeks ago, the two held a joint news conference to inform the public about their anti-corruption campaign in the force and the difficulties they were encountering.

Admittedly, this was followed by the revelation of the bungling by the police of an Interpol tip-off about a paid assassination, sparking heavy criticism from the media and the parties, some of which called for the resignation of the minister. It is these public attacks that Anastasiades responded to with his comments to the CyBC. But the assurance that he would take control after his holiday, like a superman with expertise in combating corruption and crushing the criminal underworld, was a bit too much. Why does he have a minister of justice and chief of police if he has to personally clean the force of corruption?

The reality is that corruption is so widespread, in the public sector and police, it would require a lot more than a few measures that would be taken by the president to root it out. Such an enterprise would require months of detailed planning, the recruitment of people who will be in charge of the campaign, changes in the laws that limit the powers of law enforcers and protect the corrupt as well as the introduction of new regulations. All this cannot be done in a few days by the president or anyone else for that matter.

If the president is serious about combating corruption good intentions and brave words are not enough. He needs a well-thought out plan and the resolve to enforce it. Anything less is just rhetoric for the benefit of the media.

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