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Our View: Resignations that don’t look much like real resignations

Outgoing Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou pushing through a series of judicial reforms before he leaves office

THE PUBLIC and the political parties were on Thursday given the resignation they were calling for over the serial killer fiasco. Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou submitted his resignation to President Anastasiades, who accepted it but not with immediate effect. He had asked Nicolaou to stay in his post for a while longer so as to submit to the council of ministers the bills for the reform of the justice system that were being prepared by state legal service.

Resignations with a time-delay are becoming the trademark of the Anastasiades government. A few weeks ago, finance minister Harris Georgiades, responded to loud calls for his sacking, after he was deemed politically responsible for the collapse of the co-op bank by an investigative committee, be announcing that he would leave his post by the end of the year. He had, reportedly, put his resignation at the disposal of the president, but it was not accepted with immediate effect, so opted for leaving at a later date.

It seems the government cannot handle ministerial resignations very efficiently. Nobody seems to know how long the completion of the bills that Nicolaou will submit to the cabinet will take. And once he submits them would he not have to hang around to explain them to the House legal affairs committee that will have to approve them before they are forwarded to plenum? A new justice minister will be in no position to do this, so it may take a few months before one is appointed.

Adding to the peculiarity of ministerial resignations, Nicolaou said he was stepping down, “for reasons of political ethics, knowing that I have no responsibility for the handling of the reports (on the missing women), nor was I ever informed of them by the police.” In other words, he did not take political responsibility for the appallingly bad police work, even though the force is under his authority. He was also praised by Anastasiades who accepted the resignation with great regret because he would “be deprived of the services of one of my closest associates.”

Meanwhile, the man directly in charge of the force, chief of police Zacharias Chrysostomou has refused to take any responsibility for the bad work of his officers. He will most probably be sacked by Anastasiades at their meeting, scheduled for Friday morning, because if there is one man that should go it is the chief of police. It was the force he directly commands that had not properly investigated the cases of the missing women and the president should not even have given him the option of resigning. He should have been sacked days ago.

The problem is that Anastasiades is led by public opinion rather than setting high ethical standards of behaviour for ministers and state officials which is why he does not take the necessary decisions promptly and opts for time-delayed resignations.


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