Five presidential candidates issued a joint statement on Thursday to press for televised debates and are urging remaining candidates to join their initiative.
The statement was issued by Averof Neophytou, Andreas Mavroyiannis, Achilleas Demetriades, Marios Eliades and Giorgos Colocasides.
Among those absent from the list is former foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides who polls suggest is a frontrunner in the race. But he said later in the day he would join the debate.
Also absent was Neo Kyma’s Constantinos Christofides, the former rector of the University of Cyprus, who issued an announcement later on Thursday saying he agreed and would back the initiative.
“We agree that the organisation of televised debates among all the candidates for the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus with rules that are based on transparency and equality, boosts democratic dialogue and promotes political awareness,” they said.
Such debates would give Cypriot voters the opportunity to hear candidates for the February 2023 elections set out and defend their positions on all important issues, they added.
Representatives of the five campaign teams met on Wednesday in the first, informal meeting on the issue and agreed to continue their constructive dialogue. In his statement, Christofides said his campaign team had been unable to attend for reasons of force majeure. He did not elaborate.
“For this reason, we call on the other campaign teams, who were invited yesterday and did not attend, to actively participate in this joint effort that is being carried out in a spirit of mutual respect,” the statement said.
They also called on CyBC and private channels to respond positively to this joint effort.
During the day, Christodoulides also released a statement saying he was on board with the TV debate proposal. Earlier, appearing on a television show, the candidate claimed his team wasn’t aware of the Wednesday meeting.
But in a statement of his own, Colocassides effectively accused Christodoulides of lying. He attached a screenshot of an email sent to Christodoulides’ election staff, regarding the debates. The email was dated June 8.
Four of the candidates issuing the statement are independents, though former diplomat and chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis is backed by Akel while lawyer Achilleas Demetriades has been endorsed by the party for Famagusta.
Neophytou, who is president of Disy, has been pushing for debates for some time, a call he has particularly directed towards Christodoulides, who is running as an independent but recently secured the support of Diko, all while saying he remains a member of Disy and is proud of his participation in the Anastasiades government.
Meanwhile on Thursday Christodoulides continued his contacts with a meeting at Edek which has still to decide what it will do in next year’s elections.
In statements after the meeting, Edek president Marinos Sizopoulos spoke of a substantial exchange of views about possible cooperation, with Christodoulides outlining the basic objectives of his candidacy.
Edek has raised a number of queries as they conclude contacts regarding the elections. The party’s decision will be taken at a conference on July 13.
The former foreign minister thanked Edek for a very productive discussion and expressed the hope that the dialogue will continue.