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MPs reject president’s veto on private sector jobs for retired public officials

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The House on Thursday rejected the president’s veto on a law expanding the list of public officials needing special permission to be employed in the private sector after they leave public service.

Lawmakers from all parties harangued President Nicos Anastasiades for refusing to sign off on the law, warning of a legal quagmire.

Earlier this month parliament passed the law – an amendment updating existing legislation – enlarging the list of persons working for the central government or in the broader public sector who by default are prohibited from being employed in the private sector for a period of two years after leaving public service.

Those falling into this category and seeking employment in the private sector before the two years are up, would need special permission.

Under the amendment, the list of persons was expanded to include judges, the attorney-general and the deputy attorney-general, the chief and deputy chief of the National Guard, the Chief Fire Officer, firemen, police officers and commissioned military officers.

The idea is to prevent such persons from potentially abusing or gaining a benefit from privileged or confidential information they had access to while in public service.

But when the law went to the president’s desk, he refused to sign it and sent it back to the House, urging MPs to reconsider. Anastasiades argues the law is unconstitutional in relation to judges, and the attorney-general and the deputy attorney-general.

He says that, at the time of their appointment, the officials in question were not bound by these new obligations, which now adversely affect their terms of employment.

But with MPs now doubling down and rejecting the president’s veto, the issue must be resolved legally at the supreme court.

At the plenum on Thursday, Akel MP Aristos Damianou said the president’s action further complicates matters. That’s because supreme court judges will now rule on a matter that concerns them personally – raising issues of conflict of interest.

Damianou called on the president to withdraw his veto and “put a full stop” to the issue so as to avoid putting the judges in a difficult position.

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