Former President Nicos Anastasiades raised eyebrows on Thursday after he issued a statement amid a political firestorm in his own Disy party, calling on members to leave aside “personal grudges” and focus on unity.

He appeared to reflect positively on his own leadership of the party, saying that even during the contentious Anan referendum in 2004 where the party was “threatened like never before,” it was thanks to the “calm leadership of the party, the historic members, and unending love of its members,” that Disy was never threatened with a split and continued to hold a leading position.

Anastasiades’ statements came as Disy’s current party leader Annita Demetriou came under fire ahead of the municipal elections.

This was prompted after the party’s political bureau ratified the candidacy of Costas Constantinou for the Paphos district chief. The controversy stems from the fact that Constantinou supported incumbent President Nikos Christodoulides for the presidential elections rather than Disy’s leader at the time Averof Neophytou.

Disy’s decision appeared to infuriate Neophytou who issued a scathing statement, saying the party “made those who undermined [the party’s] unity the flagbearers.”

Demetriou hit back saying that Neophytou did not even attend the political bureau, suggesting it was rich of him to criticise without participating.

She highlighted she understood why he was emotionally charged and had a right to an opinion, but he should have actively illustrated his support to the party’s new leadership as he pledged he would.

The party does not belong to Annita, Averof or Anastasiades but its people. This is the first time we have operated so democratically. In a secret ballot I did not impose my opinion on anyone, I respected and listened to everyone.”

Commenting on the ongoing row, Anastasiades entered the fore to appeal “to all those who identified and served our historic party to leave aside personal grudges and unite powers to bring back hope to the people and our occupied land.”

He said continuing to blame each other for personal vindication leads only to a “path of destruction.”

Demetriou also came under fire for not attending the memorial for controversial Eoka General Georgios Grivas.

Commenting on Politis radio she said “I do not wish to start a new discussion over what is happening. And enough over this matter every year on whether we will go or not go to the memorial service of anyone.

“We have so many issues to handle and we’ll discuss 1956 and 1821? Enough. Full respect to our history. We have so many issues now, let’s focus.”

The party leader sought to deflect criticism that Anastasiades is under fire over, regarding his handling of the negotiations on the Cyprus problem in Crans-Montana – which collapsed and have never restarted.

She said the continued criticism that Anastasiades had put forth a two-state solution – for which she said she was not aware of – “only helps to support the other side.”

Demetriou stressed the UNSG’s envoy is currently in Cyprus for discussions on restarting negotiations and as such, the focus should be there, rather than attributing blame elsewhere.