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House education committee breaks into war of words

File photo: Andreas Themistocleous

The House education committee descended into chaos amid a war of words on Wednesday with Akel MP Christos Christofides later accusing independent MP Andreas Themistocleous of debasing parliament.

“Truly I do not know whether since 1960 parliament has been subject to such vulgar threats and insults,” Christofides told reporters after the meeting, calling for something to finally be done about Themistocleous’ behaviour.

Christofides emphasised that he will report Themistocleous to both the special committee on the code of conduct of MPs and to the House president.

The entire subject of the meeting was lost amid the explosive row which saw Themistocleous accused of issuing threats and insults.

Asked about the incident, Themistocleous afterwards said: “Christofides can report me to wherever he wishes, [he] was born a liar and that will only cease once he is dead.”

He said that while he was addressing the committee, Christofides was speaking to other colleagues.

The independent MP insisted that Christofides simply overreacted upon hearing the words Tepak and Akel.

“As I was speaking I mentioned Tepak and Akel – simply me mentioning the word Akel led to Christofides unleashing a tirade at the committee… and he came here to continue his accusations,” Themistocleous said.

As for threatening Christofides, Themistocleous flatly rejected the accusation and instead argued that he had merely told the main opposition MP that he would debate him in parliament.

“That’s a lie – I said that we’ll sort this out in parliament… and if he interprets me saying that we will sort it out in parliament as a threat, then let it be a threat,” Themistocleous said.

For his part, Christofides argued that Themistocleous has a long history of such behaviour but that Wednesday’s outburst surpassed previous episodes.

“I know the rules, unfortunately it’s true that not much can be done but what I do know is that whenever this particular MP is present we all look ridiculous – that’s the reality,” Christofides said.

Themistocleous has repeatedly been accused of being a firebrand and derailing committee and parliamentary proceedings.

In February, parliament handed the independent MP a verbal reprimand over his inappropriate behaviour last September toward an official with the Green Party.

The decision on Themistocleous’ penalty – essentially a slap on the wrist – was announced by the special committee on the code of conduct of MPs. Themistocleous himself was absent from the proceedings – apparently for personal reasons on the day.

In early September 2021, during a discussion at the House health committee, Themistocleous shouted at Efi Xanthou, then a parliamentary assistant sitting in on the session.

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