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Our View: MP’s challenge to rule by decree a first but motives unclear

koulias
House watchdog committee chairman Zaharias Koulias

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, an MP has spoken out about the government’s unchallenged health decrees that we’ve been living under for the past two years which were supposed to last a few months.

Some of these decrees have been sensible and others nonsensical, but the representatives of the people have kept their mouths shut, afraid to lose votes from rabid proponents of the measures or being accused of putting business before lives in the case of lockdowns despite the damage they wrought.

To those who feel the MPs they elected should be standing up for their rights, because they think differently, deputies have failed them through sheer cowardice, unequivocally supporting through their silence everything the government has thrown at sections of the population, even when it blatantly amounted to blackmail and coercion, which is still ongoing.

Yesterday, Diko MP Zaharias Koulias tabled for discussion at the House ethics committee the sidelining of parliament when it comes to decrees. It might have meant more if it hadn’t come out of the mouth of a populist politician, and his motives are not one hundred per cent clear. But at least it may spark a discussion involving views from both sides of the current divide where there is only one acceptable perspective and the other is demonised, something the government itself has had a hand in.

Koulias said in the past two years people had been coerced into submitting to medical procedures they disagreed with. He acknowledged there was a pandemic and a need for measures, but it was equally important they be in line with people’s constitutional rights. One of these of course is corporeal integrity.

The decrees, he said, were borderline legal and in some instances, legality had been breached and the government had gone beyond constitutional provisions and the EU acquis. He said decrees should have a time limit. They currently do but are renewed by the government at will.

Koulias called for the decrees to be put to parliament once a certain time limit has expired. The problem with this is that in a real emergency, this would take time and governments have needed to act fast and err on the side of caution.

At the same time, at this stage, which is way beyond the initial emergency period, some form of oversight seems to be in order lest we fall into the trap of undemocratic rule via eternal government health decrees that can justify almost anything.

The question is whether MPs like Koulias really have the best interests of the citizenry at heart or whether the parliament is merely trying to wrest back control for its own power trip? There is no guarantee that even if MPs are given the last word on a decree, they won’t just go along with the government anyway to project a veneer of democracy. There is no parliament in any EU country right now that has challenged executive decrees and there’s no reason to think Cyprus will be any different.

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