The internal Disy rift was further exposed during a recent debate after party leader and presidential candidate Averof Neophytou called on President Nicos Anastasiades to clarify his position over who he supports in the elections.

“I’m always honest, and to be honest tonight as well: doubt has been cast,” Neophytou said, emphasising that these doubts have arisen via statements made in public.

The reaction to Neophytou’s comments on Monday night’s Sigma debate – and the lack of a response, so far, from the president – has further fanned the flames.

There has been sharp media reaction to Neophytou’s comments on the president’s stance, most noting how direct they were.

Neophytou was spurred on when the presenter asked him about comments he made last Thursday – in which he said that: “We’re all aware that that my candidacy is faced with an elephant in the room, which is named Nikos Anastasiades.”

“Do you feel that Nikos Anastasiades is undermining your candidacy?” the presenter asked.

The presenter also prefaced the question by referring to previous comments made by the president, in which he said that he will have influence over whomever of the three main candidates win the election as they are all previous colleagues.

Neophytou replied: “The person with the responsibility to clear this up is no one else other than the president.”

He also bristled at the president’s characterisation of Christodoulides as a colleague, arguing that the candidate is undermining Disy.

Asked whether he is sour over the way the president and the presidential palace has handled the elections, Neophytou said: “I’m not a person who displays emotions, but a person who records the facts.”

Anastasiades recently cited his institutional role as president – as being above party politics – for not leaning too much into the upcoming elections.

But others have claimed that he was in fact more involved in previous elections during his presidency, therefore interpreting a lack of energy this time around as being a lukewarm endorsement of Neophytou.

Some have interpreted Anastasiades as looking towards healing potential rifts within the party following the elections. That means leaving the doors open for the sizeable chunk of the Disy electorate which is likely to vote for Christodoulides.

Neophytou, however, said that we are “putting up with” a political paradox, in a candidate claiming to be Disy, an independent and a candidate of the centre ground but then criticizes the government in which he served as corrupt.

Haris Georgiades, deputy party leader of Disy, told Politis on Monday that Anastasiades has consistently expressed his support for Neophytou.

“I don’t see there being an issue on this, but simply by it becoming a public talking point doesn’t help us,” he added.

Polls consistently show former foreign minister Christodoulides as securing a significant chunk of the Disy electorate.

Local media was awash with speculation that Neophytou may have made the comments as a deflection tactic, as should he lose the election to Christodoulides – who is strongly favoured in the polls, the Disy leader could then shift blame to Anastasiades.

Daily Politis ran an article claiming that cabinet ministers are also irked at the president’s role so far in the elections.

But Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides and Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos both shrugged off such suggestions, having been asked after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

Petrides said: “I have declared my support for the party’s candidate, the president has done the same.”

Karousos simply said that he has not read the article and therefore cannot comment on it.

Polls released last week by CyBC reaffirmed that Christodoulides looks set to wipe the floor with his rival in the February elections.

Irrespective of the questions, Christodoulides consistently topped the charts. He was the most popular candidate at 55 per cent, with Akel’s Andreas Mavroyiannis and Neophytou trailing at 37 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.