The Akel leadership will hold discussions with possible presidential candidate Stavros Malas on Tuesday as the party continues its search for someone to back for next year’s elections.
The party’s central committee announced on Saturday that it has authorised the Akel general secretariat to proceed with their decision to “explore the possibilities” of cooperating with Malas in the February 2018 presidential elections. Akel is on the hunt for a new presidential candidate after cooperation with businessman Mike Spanos – who was their first choice – fell through last month.
Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said on Monday that Malas – who served as a health minister during Demetris Christofias’ administration – fulfilled the party’s criteria for a presidential candidate: he stands a chance of being elected, has the political will to solve the Cyprus problem, supports progressive social reform and redistribution of wealth, and he is prepared to clamp down on corruption. Corruption, Kyprianou said, “is an extremely important chapter”.
He said that the first meeting of the Akel general secretariat with Malas on the issue was scheduled for Tuesday, while, if all goes well, the latter’s candidacy would be ratified at a party conference in September.
Malas, speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, said that the dialogue with the Akel leadership is aimed at the two parties reaching an agreement framework which would eventually lead to changing both the current administration and political culture.
He added that concerns for ordinary people had led to his decision to enter into consultations with Akel.
“They are the simple and normal people, who do not lead inherited or subsidised lives, and who worry about the future of the country, mainly over the predominance of a political culture of corruption in the country,” Malas said.
He added that he was not touched by corruption, neither as a presidential candidate in the 2013 elections, nor when he was in the executive.
Malas, a geneticist by profession, was the party’s presidential candidate in the 2013 elections. He made it to the second round where he lost to Disy’s Nicos Anastasiades who was also backed by Diko and Evroko.
Following Spanos’ rejection, the Citizens’ Alliance chairman Yiorgos Lillikas tried to convince the party to back him instead but Kyprianou made it clear that they wouldn’t be backing Lillikas.
Meanwhile, the rector of the University of Cyprus, Constantinos Christofides, is also seriously considering entering the electoral race as an independent candidate. Christofides has already gathered a sizeable team of people around him to help him launch a campaign if he finally decides to proceed.
According to media reports, among his supporters are academicians and personalities. His election campaign, if he goes ahead with the plan, is to be funded mainly by diaspora Cypriots, reports said.
If he decides to run, Christofides will be up against, Akel’s candidate, incumbent Anastasiades, Lillikas and Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos.