The war of words between Akel and Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides continued on Wednesday with party leader Stephanos Stephanou saying the minister should not get involved in pre-election campaigns.
Stephanou fired against Petrides, saying it was “unconstitutional” for a minister who is paid by the taxpayer to be intervening in a pre-election campaign.
“If he wants to get involved in [Disy leader and presidential candidate] Mr. Averof Neophytou’s pre-election campaign,” Stephanou said, “he should resign as minister and join his staff”.
The comments followed those of the previous day, when Petrides said Akel-backed candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis was taking a populist stance on the economy, criticising his proposed policies and saying they were similar to those of Akel which brought about the 2013 financial crisis.
Mavroyiannis said that since the Co-op bank was closed, a huge gap has emerged with high interest rates causing problems for middle class people, and others in Cyprus.
Stephanou also said that Petrides “shoots against Mr. Mavroyiannis, but does not ask, let’s say, Mr. Averof with what money he plans to support families”.
He went on to question Neophytou’s credibility by mentioning his links to Anastasiades, saying the Disy government ignored those affected by the haircut in its ten years of power, only for its new presidential candidate to claim they will be supported.
“They commit to all sorts of things during elections, only for them to do nothing, or even the opposite, after,” he said. “Why doesn’t Mr. Petrides ask him where he will find the money to support these people?”
In his own statement, Petrides responded to what he called this “personal attack” by saying he is not being paid to participate in anyone’s campaign.
“Gentlemen of Akel, others were paid to campaign while spending the taxpayers’ money and loading them with debt,” he said.
“Those who squandered the public coffers by handing out wrongful benefits, doubling public debts in a time of growth during their rule, bankrupting the country, shutting it out of the markets and increasing unemployment to 17 per cent, those who let the Co-op be plundered by partisanship.
“And they were none other than the ministers and the government of Akel,” he said.
“As a member of the government, as a politician and as minister of finance, it is my obligation to position myself politically, therefore I am responding, and will continue to respond to the disastrous economic policies Akel proposes, trying once again to ridicule society,” Petrides added.
“The political positions of ministers are self-evident in all modern democracies, but of course Akel has confirmed it is unable to understand how modern democracies work,” he said.
“But it does not mean that they will succeed in silencing us”.