A bill to amend the constitution to prevent a president serving more than two consecutive terms in office, and an MP more than three consecutive terms at a time was tabled to the House legal affairs committee on Wednesday.
The bill, presented by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, would not however prevent someone serving a third term as president if they had not held the post in an intervening five-year period. A similar process would apply to deputies, meaning they could run for a fourth term if they sat out one election cycle.
Nicolaou said the bill does not regulate someone’s right to stand for office but relates to political accountability and avoiding abuse of power due to the constant presence of one person in the same post.
“It serves to enhance the political transparency of the country,” he said.
Nicolaou reminded MPs that a similar bill had been filed in April 2013.
“The regulation stipulates that for the submission of any candidacy for these positions, the candidate will have not been serving in office at the time they submit their candidacy if they have already served the stipulated terms.”
The reason why it would be two terms for the president and three for MPs, he added, was because the office of the president carries more power.
“This is a regulation that will have added value as far as the political life of the country is concerned,” he told reporters after the meeting, adding that there seemed to be a positive reaction from committee members.
Nicolaou said the bill had been vetted by the attorney-general’s office and found to be constitutional.
The chairman of the committee Giorgos Georgiou said that he fully agreed with the bill.
“The presence of someone for a long time in a political office creates an established and abusive position,” he said, adding that it was the committee’s goal to send it to a vote shortly.
Akel MP Aristos Damianou said if part of the plan was to imbue the political scene with fresh blood, then the regulation would not necessarily work if all someone had to do was sit out one term before trying again. “It more or less negates that philosophy,” he said.
It also meant that MPs currently on their second, third or even fourth term, could run again after one election cycle out of the system, and win another three consecutive terms after that.
In general, however, he said Akel supported the bill and had done for many years.