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Our View: Phedonos must watch his step if he is to continue his crusade

Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos has accused parliament of cheap populism ahead of January’s presidential election

Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos is described as a maverick, a publicity-seeker, a loose cannon, a rebel, a bully, a crusader, an incorruptible, a lunatic and much more. He is probably all of these things and more, but not everyone will agree. One thing that nobody can dispute, however, is that he is unique. There has never been anyone else like him in the tribal world of Cyprus politics, in which it is a mortal sin to say anything unflattering about anyone belonging to your own party.

This convention has never stopped Phedonos, who lets fly in all directions regardless of who he will embarrass or upset. He does not care if he puts the leadership of his own party in an awkward position with his revelations and allegations, because he is on a mission to expose what is wrong and corrupt in our society. Such integrity – although a little sanctimonious at times – has never been displayed by our politicians, who are suspected of having ulterior motives whenever they open their mouths.

Phedonos has earned his reputation for integrity and honesty with his actions, having played a key role in uncovering the sewerage board scandal in Paphos, which led to half a dozen people, including a mayor, ending up behind bars. He also exposed the shady dealings at the waste treatment plant in Paphos that was part of a much bigger case of corruption and graft. His more recent revelations about the exploitation of Turkish Cypriot properties by ineligible individuals are currently being investigated. Although everyone knew this was going on, it was the mayor’s public comments that forced some action from the authorities.

Eight days ago during a television interview, Phedonos made a series of allegations about politicians from all parties receiving backhanders including the purchase of missiles, two party leaders having their homes renovated for free by a developer they did a favour for, a serving deputy who received a big bribe to arrange a zoning favour and much more. Much of this might be difficult to substantiate, which is why Phedonos must be careful with his public revelations. He was challenged to go to the police with his evidence because his allegations justified criminal investigations. He gave a statement to the police on Tuesday night, which was followed the next day by a brief announcement from the attorney-general advising that public comments about such matters ‘should be kept to a minimum.’

The attorney-general was correct. Phedonos needs to be more careful when making allegations in public, because if he cannot substantiate them he will not only look foolish, but he could undermine his credibility. That would be a terrible thing, because people listen when Phedonos speaks and believe what he says. He must safeguard his credibility and trustworthiness and avoid giving any ammunition to his many enemies if he is to continue his leading role in the fight against corruption.

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