Thirteen Laona and Akamas region community leaders have threatened to resign over the planned merger of their communities into a single municipal entity under Polis Chrysochous, it was announced on Tuesday.

Following last week’s resignation in protest by Kritou Terra community leader Dervis Charalambous, other village mayors have taken his lead.

Speaking on CyBC, Charalambous repeated his position that the communities in question felt no affinity with Polis Chrysochous geographically and had their own particular needs which would be disregarded were their communities to be dismantled in this way.

Among the community leaders supporting the protest are those of Neo Chorio, Pano Arodes, Theletra, Kathikas, Droushia, Androlikos, and Pano and Kato Akourdalia.

The thirteen communities, in a joint letter to the interior ministry, have asked for the topic of municipal consolidation to be re-opened for Parliamentary debate, despite the minister having previously stated that the matter was closed and that “the law is the law.”

The communities wanted to remain in a local conglomerate cooperating at their own initiative on certain matters, Charalambous stated.

“They have taken everything [local] away from us…our medical clinics, our cooperatives, our schools…They want to exterminate us. I prefer to resign rather than go down as the last mayor,” the leader said.

Charalambous insisted that the consolidation was part of a longer-term systemic policy “by certain political parties” to erode local authority, a phenomenon not unique to Laona.

The mukhtar of Neo Chorio, Andreas Christodoulou was quoted as saying that “such things happen only in a dictatorship!”

Charalambous told CyBC that despite the minister deferring to the law, the communities have rights, under EU legislation, to safeguard and determine their own identity.

Residents should have been properly consulted about the merger, including being offered a referendum, the mayor said.

A meeting between the community leaders and the minister is expected to take place in the near future.