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MPs say no to dissolving parliament early (Updated)

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Parliament on Friday rejected a proposal to dissolve the legislature following the public outcry prompted by the involvement of politicians in a cash for passports scandal

Parliament voted 30 to 26 against the proposal. Earlier, MPs referred an accompanying proposal calling for the president’s resignation to the legal affairs committee.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 2021.

Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis and independent MP Anna Theologou submitted a proposal calling for the dissolution of parliament and the president’s resignation following the outcry sparked by an undercover Al Jazeera video showing House president Demetris Syllouris and Akel MP Christakis Giovanis offering to assist a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record secure citizenship in return for cash.

Describing the climate, Theologou said certain cowards and corrupt individuals had made Cyprus a laughingstock, as she revealed that she had been bullied and received veiled threats to withdraw the proposal.

Theologou declined later to give more details.

Perdikis said the main culprit for the mess was the government, as he censured his colleagues for rejecting another proposal to terminate the citizenship for investment programme immediately.

He said the interior was now examining more applications saying there were 45 notices in newspapers in the past two days alone.

“Do you realise what is happening? The programme continues,” he said.

The government had announced termination of the programme in its current form from November 1, giving time for pending and new applications to be examined.

“Don’t we have responsibility?” Perdikis said.

Citizens Alliance chairman Giorgos Lillikas said he would support dissolution provided MPs approved his proposal that current legislators would not seek re-election.

Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos reiterated that his party was against dissolution because it was offering an easy way out to Disy and the government.

Papadopoulos said not all parties were the same and refused to assume responsibility for the sorry state of affairs.

“It is the vest gift and perfect way out for Disy, which does not want the government to be scrutinised,” he said.

He repeated that the auditor-general must be allowed to probe the programme or his party would not be voting for the 2021 budget.

Main opposition Akel leader Andros Kyprianou highlighted the corruption problem in Cyprus, reminding MPs that 95 per cent of the people believed corruption was rampant.

Kyprianou said most of the scandals concerned the current administration, which he accused of ignoring the warnings regarding the citizenship programme.

“We were also bothered by the video, and I want to apologise to society,” he said, adding that the party’s MP has resigned from all posts.

Ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou offered his own mea culpa over the mistakes the party made in the past, arguing that it would have been a good message to society if they all did it.

Neophytou said Disy was in favour of dissolution, which was an opportunity to try to gradually restore political normality as opposed to Diko’s threats and blackmail,

“It is not politically correct to threaten to paralyse the country if you do not get your way,” he said. But “with or without (early) elections, the blackmail wont pass.”

Neophytou reiterated that the party had no problem with the auditor probing the programme but there were also legal issues that could in the end be used as an alibi by some.

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