Disy leader and presidential candidate Averof Neophytou said he and President Nicos Anastasiades “will continue to move forward together” following a meeting of the two aimed at clearing the air after the former suggested the president might not be fully behind him in the coming elections.

The meeting lasted around one and a half hours and was held in the presence of other Disy MPs and representatives of the president’s office.

“President Anastasiades and I are linked by several decades of cooperation with the sole purpose being the good of our country,” the Disy leader told the media following the meeting.

“Most importantly, we share a common home and that is Disy. That is why we are continuing what we started together many years ago.

“The upcoming presidential elections represent a battle that we as Disy will fight together, so that we can keep Cyprus on the right path of stability, security and development,” Neophytou concluded.

Following reports of the rift, Anastasiades, who together with Averof attended a Young Scientists Organisation event on Wednesday night, told reporters his overriding concern was preserving the unity of the party.

“The issue is for a party that has contributed and continues to contribute to the country to remain united and strong,” the president said.

He referred to Disy as a ‘family’, highlighting the love and contribution of its members for the country.

“Within a family some problems may be coming up. It’s all about the love for the country, the love for a party that has contributed and is contributing to the country, staying united, strong and being able to continue to offer what it has offered to date.”

In a television debate 11 days ago, Neophytou had implied that Anastasiades had not unequivocally backed his candidacy in February’s presidential elections. “We’re all aware that that my candidacy is faced with an elephant in the room, which is named Nicos Anastasiades.”

Asked by the presenter whether he felt his candidacy was being undermined by the president, Neophytou had said, “the person with the responsibility to clear this up is no one else other than the president.”

For more than a week, the president stayed silent about the matter, refusing to comment even when pressed by journalists. He finally responded with Tuesday’s statement which failed to answer any of the points raised by Neophytou.

Deputy leader of Disy Harris Georgiades also commented on the ongoing rift on Tuesday, saying that preserving the party’s unity is of the utmost importance.

“I feel an increased responsibility as deputy president to preserve above all the unity of Disy,” he said.

“If you ask me, the continuity, cohesion, and unity of Disy is more important than the success in any election.

“So, my primary concern and responsibility is to keep the party united until February so that we can approach the presidential elections in the best possible way to achieve all our goals,” he concluded.