Andreas Mavroyiannis and Nikos Christodoulides – the two remaining presidential candidates – sparred on the airwaves on Friday ahead of Sunday’s election.
Christodoulides again sought to court the divided Disy vote as he reiterated that it’s the biggest party and should have a role to play in the upcoming government.
He diplomatically tried to play down the Disy divide by reiterating that in 2004 most members did not heed the call of Glafcos Clerides and Nicos Anastasiades to back the Annan plan. The party then came first in European parliamentary elections.
President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to make an announcement later in the day, after other major Disy members have stated who they will back.
Mavroyiannis has received key support from top Disy players and a stronger public backing from the party, which has officially decided to be in opposition.
Christodoulides, the former foreign minister and ex-Disy member, again stressed that his candidacy includes players from across the political spectrum.
Mavroyiannis, however, pointed out that the ‘rainbow coalition’ poses the risk of the Cyprus problem being ‘buried’ – as the alliance includes federalists and anti-federalists.
Elsewhere, Christodoulides leapt onto reports that Mavroyiannis and Disy leader Averof Neophytou, who failed to make it to the election’s second round, have been holding daily meetings. Claims that the two had lunch together at a popular Nicosia restaurant have been dismissed as ‘fake news’.
Mavroyiannis said on Thursday that he is having daily phone calls with Neophytou and on Friday he thanked the Disy leader for refuting the rumours that they were holding daily meetings.
The presidential candidate said that some were attempting to paint a picture of the two as conspiring together.
As for having praised Neophytou’s political integrity – Mavroyiannis explained that throughout the campaign the Disy leader never struck a blow below the belt and neither did he resort to dirty tactics.
To stand a chance winning on Sunday, Mavroyiannis must secure a significant chunk of disaffected Disy voters – perhaps those seeking to punish Christodoulides. His praise of Neophytou will likely make that shift easier for those struggling to vote for an Akel-backed candidate.
Mavroyiannis slammed Diko leader Nicholas Papadopoulos – who warned of a return to communism, a blow at him being backed by Akel. Mavroyiannis emphasised that Tasos Papadopoulos had governed alongside Akel.
Mavroyiannis earlier this week said that he would appoint Charalambos Prountzos as finance minister should he win on Sunday.
The move has been viewed as an attempt by Mavroyiannis to bury claims and concerns that his presidency would put Akel back in charge of the levers of financial power.
Prountzos said he never hid away from the fact that he adopted values linked to a free market economy, supporting the candidacies of Ioannis Kassoulides in 2008 and Anastasiades in 2013.
Notably, current Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said that Prountzos has his seal of approval.
The week leading up to the second round has been a firework display of top politicians stating who they will back on Sunday.
Some of the big names to back front-runner Christodoulides are former Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis, veteran Disy MP Nicos Tornaritis and Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Thursday clearly and firmly stated his support for Mavroyiannis, as have others from the ‘Clerides’ school of thought’.
“I’m ready to make the leap [and support an Akel-backed candidate], I believe that fellow colleagues have also come out in favour of this such as the Finance Minister [Constantinos Petrides].
“Someone has to make the first step, Akel did not, some of us are and I will vote for Andreas Mavroyiannis,” Kasoulides explained.
But Labour Minister Kyriacos Koushos and Interior Minister Nicos Nouris both expressed their strong dissatisfaction with the notion of backing Mavroyiannis – arguing that it opens the door to Akel being in power.