THERE seems no end to President Anastasiades’ tendency to shoot himself in the foot. As if the bungling of the teaching dispute and the about turns of the government were not embarrassing enough, on Monday he rescinded a decision to appoint four people announced last week. And this was not a decision taken by the council of ministers, enabling the president to pass the responsibility onto his ministers – it was a decision taken by the presidency as it involved the hiring of people to work as advisors at the presidential palace.
One of the appointees was the former deputy government spokesman who had left his post after Anastasiades’ re-election. But the appointments that sparked an uproar were of two women who were spouses of political correspondents working at television stations – one at Antenna and one at Sigma. Newspapers and opposition parties could not be blamed for claiming Anastasiades had done favours to political correspondents in order to secure positive coverage from them. Could it have been a coincidence the two women were hired on contracts at lowly inconsequential posts that could have been filled by any number of people?
On Monday the government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, announced that the “administration of the presidency had earlier contacted the House of Representatives to withdraw the request for the release of the relevant expenditure.” This was in response to “claims and comments made publicly and to attempts presenting the government as trying to exercise influence over the new media through the purchase of services from specific persons.” Prodromou said that such comments “are completely lacking in substance and the government never had any such intention”.
Even if this were the case, had it not crossed the president’s mind that this would be the public perception of the appointments? Has he become so arrogant he believes he could get away with anything? Perhaps he should consider this a wake-up call, a warning that he is not above criticism and that he should give more thought to his decisions. His disastrous, direct involvement in the teaching dispute was another illustration of poor judgement that is based on the belief that he can do no wrong. Obviously, he can because he eventually capitulated to the teachers and on Monday, embarrassingly, rescinded his decision on the appointments.
To add to his embarrassment, the two appointees issued brief statements on Monday, saying that they would reject the offer by the presidency to buy their respective services. Like the teachers, they had thrown the president’s offer back in his face, after accepting it.