The photo-portrait of Archbishop Makarios III – the first president of the Republic – has been moved from its usual place in the presidential palace, with two MPs calling for its reinstatement.

For decades, Makarios’ portrait had occupied the space on the wall above the fireplace in the room where the president receives foreign leaders and dignitaries.

But the previous weekend – specifically during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – journalists taking snapshots at the palace noticed that the portrait was no longer there.

Commentators also noted that Makarios’ portrait had occupied its normal spot above the fireplace during the handover ceremony in late February this year, when Christodoulides walked into the palace and took over as president.

Apparently, the portrait now adorns a side office where President Christodoulides takes meetings.

In a letter addressed to Christodoulides and dated September 8, Diko MPs Christos Orfanides and Zacharias Koulias asked for the portrait to be returned to its usual spot.

“Since his passing, six presidents succeeded him [Makarios] and, fully respecting the person of the archbishop, they did not proceed – nor even consider – with bringing down his photograph or moving it to an inferior space than the one it deserves,” the MPs complained.

“We were aggrieved to learn about the moving of the photograph of the archbishop, and we feel this action contributes to stirring up unfortunate situations and does not promote unity.”

The MPs concluded by asking that the portrait be returned to its former position.

Speculation was rife about the reasons behind the relocating of Makarios’ iconic portrait. Some suggested it was temporarily moved because of ongoing renovation works, while others opined it was a personal choice by Christodoulides.

Born Michael Christodoulou Mouskos, Archbishop Makarios served as president from 1960 to his death in 1977. He was 63 years old.