Excavation works at the planned asphalt factory in Mitsero have been suspended, according to the village’s community leader Andreas Kyriacou.
Speaking to Cyprus Mail on Wednesday, Kyriacou said the leaders of the 12 communities demonstrating against the planned relocation of the asphalt plant to the area received “verbal reassurances from the president’s office that the excavation works will not go forward for the time being”.
“However, until the matter is made official, members of our communities will still hold a presence in the area and peacefully express their disapproval of the plans,” he said.
Later in the day the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) cited a source from the president’s office as confirming that works have temporarily been postponed.
CNA reported that a meeting with President Anastasiades will go ahead on August 25, with the source stating that the company has been informed not to proceed with any works at the site until after the meeting.
“With the departure of the machine from the space, we will also leave,” said Agrokipia community leader, Sotiris Kyriacou.
Kyriacou said the machinery is expected to leave on Thursday morning. “We will leave as soon as the machine leaves,” he reiterated.
Kyriacou added that on Thursday August 4, at 7pm, a prayer service will be held by a delegation of priests from the region of the affected communities on Kato Moni-Agios Ioannis road.
The recent developments come after a police officers’ association rejected the accusation of police brutality during the protests on Tuesday, when residents of the 12 affected communities blocked part of the Kato Moni to Ayios Ioannis Mallountas road. The protests continued on Wednesday.
Kyriacou and the community leader of Agrokipia were also arrested on Tuesday for obstructing the progress of an excavator sent to delineate the site, and for verbally insulting police. They were taken to Lakatamia police station where they were charged and released.
Following the arrests, the Cyprus environmental movement group (PKK) called for their release claiming police used “excessive force”. The NGO also called for an end to any work to install the “death factory”.
Political parties and other organisations also echoed the criticism of police.
Videos published on social media on Tuesday show the tense situation between the demonstrators and police officers, who pushed and shoved several people.
Following a public outcry accusing the police of excessive force use, the police officers’ association Isotita (Equality) said that the accusations are unfounded, adding that the issue started when an officer had to be taken to hospital after feeling ill due to the severe heat.
“What happened yesterday saddens us all,” Isotita head Nikos Loizides told the Cyprus Times.
“The pushing and the shoving only took place when police officers needed to create the space for their colleague to be taken to hospital.”
Loizides added that he understands the outcry stemming from the planned relocation of the asphalt plant in the area.
“There are police officers living in the area as well. But we have to maintain order. Justice needs to be sought in courts, through laws and regulations. Injustice is one thing and maintaining order is another,” Loizides said.
The communities concern Mitsero, Kato Moni, Agrokipia, Agios Ioannis, Arediou, Malounta, Meniko, Orounta, Ayia Marina, Ayios Epiphanios, Kalo Chorio and Klirou.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday, Kyriacou, one of the two arrested on Tuesday, said he was among the people who stayed at the site overnight to demonstrate their disapproval.
“When I woke up this morning, there were around 100 people,” he said, adding that several local residents interrupted their holidays to join the protests.
“I am very glad to see so many people here. I want to add that the situation is calm and there is no tension between demonstrators and the police,” he said.