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Aglandjia challenge to local government reform rejected by Supreme Court (updated)

supreme court
The Supreme Court
Content of case not examined as thrown out over timing issue

The supreme court unanimously rejected on an appeal by Aglandjia municipality on Tuesday over the reform of local authorities, saying it was filed past the 30-day window allowed for an appeal to a bill passed by parliament.

According to Aglandjia Mayor Andreas Constantinou, the court said the appeal the municipality filed a year ago should have been put in after the house passed the municipal reform bill back in March 2022.

Constantinou said however that it was filed after a referral of the president was rejected a month after the bill was passed.

“The Supreme Court did not get into the essence of the issue, nor did it examine the positions of the two sides, limiting itself to the fact that the appeal was not made within 30 days, as provided by the law,” a court announcement said.

“I, the municipal council, and all the people of Aglandjia are disappointed by the decision,” Constantinou told CyBC.

He added that the municipality expected for the appeal to be examined, but after a year they have been informed that their appeal was unanimously rejected.

“Based on the information we had from our lawyers, the appeal should have been filed after the president signed the bill [on municipal reform] into law, and that is what we did,” he said.

However, the court informed Aglandjia that the appeal should have been filed before the president’s signature, in March 2022 when the house passed the bill.

The reform sees the number of municipalities slimmed down to 20 by merging 30 existing municipalities and 63 communities. The new arrangement will see Nicosia district with five municipalities, Limassol with four, Larnaca with five, Paphos with four, and Famagusta with two.

The appeal was seen as a litmus test for other localities that have expressed dissatisfaction with the re-drawing of municipal boundaries, such as the Paphos and Laona communities.

Aglandjia was the only municipality to date that undertook to challenge the matter in court, on the basis that the restructuring decision was taken unconstitutionally.

The municipality posited a breach of legality between the state’s legislative and executive branches, stating the decision should have fallen under the interior ministry, not parliament, and that doing away with the requirement for a referendum violates the EU framework for local government, according to which constituents must be consulted.

Aglandjia is to be incorporated into a larger Nicosia municipality with Ayios Dometios and Engomi. Constantinou told CyBC that in a survey conducted by the municipality, 75 per cent of residents agreed with the community council’s stand to become part of a separate Athalassa municipality, clustered with Geri and Latsia, communities with which the mayor said Aglandjia is linked both geographically and financially.

“The local councils are elected, not appointed,” Constantinou said, “and the political will of the voters ought to be respected.”

Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, meanwhile, stated previously that changes to the proposals could not be made as there was no time and such a move would “open the bag of Aeolus.”

Ioannou said it was best to proceed with the reform as planned and resolve any practical difficulties arising in the course of time.

 

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