A war of words has broken out between Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos and Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis with Diko spokesman Athos Antoniades exchanging blows on Twitter with the minister.
The spat began on Tuesday following a visit to the Limassol general hospital when Papadopoulos said the government has left public healthcare in “God’s mercy”.
Never one to shy from a fight, the notoriously outspoken Pamboridis, considered one of the most effective government ministers after successfully passing crucial legislation to introduce a national health system (Gesy) earlier this year, hit back in a statement within hours, in which he accused Papadopoulos of electioneering.
“Obviously Mr Pamboridis is the only Cypriot [who is] satisfied with the state of public healthcare,” Diko spokesman tweeted on Wednesday.
“Speaking as the representative of [ruling party Disy] is his prerogative.”
Pamboridis replied that he has never expressed satisfaction over the state of healthcare.
“This is why I fought the vested interests to change it. How about you?”
Diko, Antoniades said, voted for Gesy in parliament and proposed the immediate upgrading of infrastructure and services.
“And we didn’t call anyone Judas,” he wrote.
The barb was a reference to a Pamboridis quip on Twitter on the eve of the Gesy House vote, in which he claimed that organized doctors had “found the Judas they had been looking for” to scupper the introduction of universal healthcare.
At the time, Papadopoulos had taken offence at the remark and called on President Nicos Anastasiades to fire his minister.
“In any event, Sir, [Diko] couldn’t not vote for Gesy,” Pamboridis charged at Antoniades.
“It is a popular demand. We’ll see whether you will back up your vote with actions.”
Antoniades then returned to the “vested interests” remark, demanding to know who Pamboridis was referring to.
“I consider this question a rhetorical one from the party that built this Cyprus and has an almost unbroken streak in power,” Pamboridis hit back.
“In short: you!”
In the ensuing back-and-forth, Pamboridis seemed to lose patience with Antoniades’ endless baiting, declaring at one point that “the donkey has died”, referring to the old healthcare system, which he claims had been milked by “various vested interests”.
“None of your governments did anything, and we came along and introduced the biggest reform, for which you are bitter,” he told Antoniades before signing off.