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Akel begins candidate search in earnest  

Main opposition Akel’s political bureau began discussion with regard to the profile of its candidate for next year’s presidential elections on Friday, with names on the table following initial discussion last month over the criteria the party’s nominee should fulfil.

“The political bureau found that implementing the planning [for the selection of a candidate] is proceeding in accordance with the timeline set,” it said in a statement.

“It also began discussion as regards the candidate’s political profile, which will continue in future sessions.”

In April, the political bureau decided that the candidate to be selected should not come from within the party.

With the exception of former President Demetris Christofias in 2008, Akel has never run a party member for president.

In 2003, it supported Diko leader Tassos Papadopoulos, who won in a first-round landslide.

Fifteen years earlier, Akel managed to elect George Vassiliou, a successful businessman, to the presidency.

It is understood that the party is looking to replicate the 1988 success.

Last week, rumours that Akel had agreed to back Sir Stelios Hadji-Ioannou – of easyJet fame – for president.

Hadji-Ioannou denied being interested, but the rumour had already raised more than a few eyebrows among social media users and, reportedly, other candidates and even the presidential palace.

According to daily Politis, Akel’s leadership has prepared a shortlist, which includes businessman Mike Spanos and lawyer Achilleas Demetriades.

With regard to the rumours that the party is considering Spanos, Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said he would “not comment on every name that is written”.

“Everyone should be a little patient,” he said.

“It is not Andros Kyprianou, nor the party’s leadership, that will decide on who the nominee will be. We have lost track of the names making the rounds on a daily basis, so I’m not going to comment.”

Spanos has confirmed being approached by Akel to online business news portal, but said that, should he decide to run in the elections, he would only do so as an independent.

An Economics graduate from University of North Carolina, Spanos has sat on the board of Heineken-Lanitis Cyprus, Lumiere TV Public, A. Petsas & Sons Public Ltd, and Cyprialife Insurance Ltd.

He currently sits on the board of Coca Cola Cyprus, a member of the Lanitis group, and a senior director at the Bank of Cyprus.

Spanos is also CEO of Business Power Ltd and director of Green Dot.

Demetriades, son of Nicosia mayor for over 25 years Lellos, is also a contender, though not the only one.

He studied law at University of Southampton, and international law at Georgetown as a Fulbright scholar.

He has practiced law in Cyprus since 1988 and represented several displaced Cypriots at the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey.


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