Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides on Wednesday said the auditor general had mounted a sexist attack against her for six years.
“Today was the pinnacle of a sexist behaviour ongoing for six years. It was behaviour that saw me as simply the wife of a husband and not a woman with her own personality,” she said.
She was speaking during a heated exchange in parliament, where the House institutions committee was discussing the renewal of her contract.
With Lottides’ six-year term coming to a close, President Nikos Christodoulides has approved the renewal of her appointment following the recommendation of his cabinet. The decision is set to go to the House plenum on Thursday as it requires MPs to rubberstamp it.
Fighting back, Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides said she should be ashamed to make such claims.
During the committee meeting, which Michaelides had attended session at Akel’s request, he hinted that the process had not been transparent at cabinet level, citing the fact that documents he supplied connected to a complaint over the matter were not circulated to cabinet members, despite his request.
He said the audit office received a signed complaint with evidence about a person that was a candidate for the ombduswoman’s position. Michaelides said he had sent this information and other evidence to both the president and the cabinet secretary.
Minutes from the cabinet session however confirm Michaelides’ documents were not shared and thus ministers did not have all the necessary evidence before making a transparent decision, he said.
At the committee, Michaelides gave all MPs a sealed envelope with the documents inside in addition to another three anonymous complaints.
Lottides condemned these three documents as a cowardly string of attacks against her.
“I have been inundated lately on social media, where everyone expresses their opinion, targeting that I am the wife of a certain husband, targeting my religious beliefs, targeting anonymous letters from cowardly people who do not have the courage to sign them, without anything being substantiated, without giving me the opportunity to speak out.”
She charged Michaelides’ stance sought to completely undermine her work, which she stated the UN has accredited with ‘A’ status.
Lottides also added she was on the receiving end of offensive behaviour as the representative of an institution that protects women. “If this happens in my face, imagine what can happen to any other woman,” she said.
After Lottides and Michaelides withdrew from the session, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said cabinet evaluated all 20 applications which were submitted for the position and concluded that the current ombudswoman is the most suitable, based on her qualifications and experience.
Based on this criteria, cabinet moved to support her reappointment.
Cabinet secretary Penelope Papavassiliou said an announcement for the position was published in two newspapers on February 20 and the deadline for applications was March 13. A list of the candidates after their evaluation was sent to the cabinet.
Michaelides said the audit office had recommended an advisory board to evaluate such appointments – which had been adopted for the independent authority against corruption.
The justice minister in turn said there is currently no advisory board and the ombudswoman’s term is coming to a close. “We have been informed by the president that the creation of an advisory board is underway.”