House president Demetris Syllouris was forced to adjourn plenum on Friday after parties rowed over a bill on army officer promotions and retirements, with some MPs questioning the motives behind the need to vote on it amid the coronavirus crisis.
It is understood that the crux of the matter was a change in a provision in the regulations that would raise the number of candidates for the rank of major general. And this just days before the army board is scheduled to convene to decide on the promotions.
Main opposition Akel MP Giorgos Loucaides questioned the decision by the majority of the parties to hold a session since in the past few days, some House committee decided not to meet because of the crisis.
The exception was the House legal affairs committee, which suggested that it would be better not to convene the plenum because there was nothing urgent to vote on.
Loucaides said while parliament had cancelled another event, it was decided to convene the plenum because of nepotism.
“The nepotism virus is stronger than the coronavirus,” he said.
Three Akel MPs had stayed away because they belonged to a high-risk group of the population.
Syllouris sought to defend the decision, arguing that a plenary session could not be compared to an event or a committee meeting.
Disy MP Nicos Tornaritis said not convening would be disrespectful to the people who had to work during the Covid-19 crisis.
Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou the nepotism claims did not concern her party.
Loucaides said his nepotism comment was not directed at Syllouris.
His party’s proposal to cancel Friday’s plenum was the responsible thing to do, he added as “we ought to protect ourselves and our families.”
The bill was eventually rejected after the vote ended in a 20-20 draw.
Disy sought a repeat of the vote but was met with Akel’s reaction.
Syllouris was forced to interrupt the session citing the tense atmosphere.