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Diko move ‘ultimate violation of constitutional convention’

Odysseas Michaelides

Diko’s threat to reject the state budget if the auditor-general was not included in the investigation into the citizenship by investment probe was the ultimate violation of constitutional conventions, the government said on Tuesday, responding to the opposition’s insistence to involve Odysseas Michaelides.

“Diko’s unprecedented blackmail that it will reject the state budgets if the auditor-general is not involved in the investigations … constitutes the ultimate violation of constitutional convention,” the government spokesman said in a statement.

Kyriacos Kousios described the affair as an attempt to substitute the attorney-general through blackmail.

“It would be acceptable if there were political and economic disagreements for a party not to vote for the state budgets,” the spokesman said.

Diko and main opposition Akel insist on having the auditor investigate the affair despite the appointment of a four-member panel that included his deputy.

Kousios said the president, the government, and political parties ought to protect constitutional order and lawfulness and defend the institutions, including the attorney-general who has many more and broader powers than any other independent state official.

The Akel-Diko alliance undermined and insulted the institution of attorney-general and exposed the auditor-general to political and party games, the spokesman said.

“It is hypocritical, to the say the least, for the budding alliance between Akel and Diko to demand from the government to involve the auditor-general … when the same alliance voted in parliament in 2016 to prohibit him from probing the loans received by politically exposed persons from the cooperative bank,” Kousios said. “A policy of double standards depending on how their party interests are best served.”

The spokesman went a step further arguing that a few months ago, Akel leader Andros Kyprianou had raised the issue of abolishing the position of auditor-general and replacing it with a council.

The audit-service said the spokesman’s claim that the service was supposedly represented in the investigating committee offended the institution of auditor-general and the attorney-general who appointed the deputy auditor under his personal capacity without consultation.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides tweeted that it would be inconceivable for someone to be represented in a committee without being asked.

“The deputy auditor was appointed in his personal capacity and to safeguard the audit service’s independence, he has been excluded from any audits concerning the citizenship programme,” Michaelides said.

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