Appointment fiascoes are becoming a habit for the current government. On Tuesday a teenage girl decided not to take up the post of advisor to the deputy minister of tourism she had been appointed to. Deputy Minister Costas Koumis said the 19-year-old, who was to have been his communications advisor, had contacted the ministry to inform it that she did not want to work there.
News of the appointment had sparked a big outcry on social media, people claiming she had been appointed because she had been actively involved in President Christodoulides’ election campaign and questioning her lack of any experience and qualifications. Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides claimed the appointment was “manifestly illegal and wrongful,” saying the law stipulated appointees should be over 21 years of age and have a university degree. He also threatened to report the government to the anti-corruption authority if the appointment went ahead.
He did not know that the Anastasiades government scrapped these provisions from the legal framework for such appointments. This was the reason the president insisted that nothing had been done “outside the framework of legality.” He also urged people to stop the “cannibalism” against individuals, but by then the political parties also joined the fray, accusing the government of “shabby handling” of an appointment that was “a provocation to the whole society.” It was inevitable that the universal condemnation would have led to a government retreat. The teenager bailed it out by saying she was not interested in the post.
It was the second appointment fiasco for the government. Last month the man appointed to the public service commission was found to have bogus university degrees. A big fuss was raised on social media about the matter and within 24 hours of his appointment, he submitted his resignation, which the president happily accepted. The woman who then got the post had authentic university degrees, but had made a career out appointments to public posts.
President Christodoulides is so terrified of bad publicity he has no qualms about scrapping decisions he has taken. Of course, in both cases he was bailed out by the appointees – one resigned and the other withdrew her interest – and was not obliged to defend his decisions. He defended the appointment of the teenage girl, in terms of its legality, as if this were the issue. He did not address the fact that a 19-year-old straight out from school with no work experience was made an advisor of a minister, in what was a blatant case of nepotism. The nepotism that he pledged to end if he were elected. Social media has been more successful in this regard than the president.