Presidential candidate Nikos Christodoulides managed to set the tone of Wednesday evening’s televised debate, alleging that supporters of his are being subjected to ‘intimidation’, while also dropping hints that his rival Averof Neophytou had to answer for his supposed links to the Israel spy van affair.
During the debate, aired on state broadcaster CyBC, Disy’s Neophytou and Akel-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis both demanded from Christodoulides that he deny or confirm the matter of the fake social media accounts which he apparently instructed a former campaign aide to set up.
The aide had claimed that Christodoulides personally told him to create the fake accounts and use them to sling mud at politicians and journalists.
Deflecting from the question, Christodoulides replied that he does not wish to get into the private communications of individuals.
Asked about his own judgement in choosing his aides, Christodoulides said he has many capable supporters. He then dropped the hammer, alleging that some of his aides have deliberately opted to keep a low profile because of threats against them.
Going on the offensive, the 49-year-old candidate then asserted that the noise around the fake accounts deliberately distracted from other issues – such as party financing and the surveillance of individuals. The latter hint was understood to refer to the spy van case of 2019, as well as media reports surfacing this week connecting Neophytou to the Israeli company which traded in phone hacking software.
Christodoulides next said that if this ‘intimidation’ of his supporters continued, that would open up a “can of worms.”
In a statement on Thursday, the Disy party called on Christodoulides to back up his claims.
“What does opening up a can of worms mean, as Mr Christodoulides put it? Whom does it concern? What does he mean when he says he has a great deal to say about many people?”
The Disy statement went on: “And what does it mean that his [Christodoulides’] aides do not show themselves because they are being threatened and intimidated? Who is threatening and intimidating them?”
Christodoulides should provide details for his allegations, otherwise stop casting aspersions on his rivals.
Akel itself seized the opportunity to again assail the ruling Disy party over its perceived role in the spy van affair.
In a statement also on Thursday, the party said new revelations have come to light about the surveillance scandal that implicate Neophytou and link him to the company owning the van.
“Let the leader of Disy – who otherwise claims he has nothing to hide –now step up to the plate and finally comment on his real connection to the Israeli agents, from whom he was buying services and products for Disy.
“Let him explain how it is possible for the company of these Israelis to have the cheek to ask Neophytou to intercede on their behalf with the commerce ministry.”