President Nikos Christodoulides had attempted to make “firefighting moves” to prevent a case being filed for the removal of Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides, he said on Tuesday.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, he said “yes, I made moves because it was not a positive development. I made efforts, but to no avail. I have nothing else to add.”

Christodoulides’ behind-the-scenes intervention on the matter is a gear-change compared to his stance hitherto.

Previously, he had gone as far as to describe the situation as an “unfortunate and unpleasant development” but made it very clear that “I am not getting myself involved in any circumstances.”

On Saturday, he had said that “any decision the courts make will be fully respected by me. I have nothing else to say on this matter.”

However, he had reaffirmed his displeasure at the unfolding situation later on Saturday, saying, “if this conflict could have been avoided, it would have been a better development for me.”

He had received criticism for his neutral stance on the matter from some quarters, including from Akel leader Stefanos Stefanou. He had said on Saturday that Christodoulides’ stance on the matter was “extremely worrying and dangerous”.

He added that Christodoulides was attempting to act as a “shrewd neutral” and was treating the matter with “apathy”.

“The president’s attitude shows that either he does not understand what this development really means, or, he is letting things develop with his silence, and it is his own will for things to be this way,” he said.

Stefanou himself had come down on the side of the auditor-general, saying that “while the auditor-general may have exceeded his powers in some cases, that does not mean he should be taken to court to request that he be sacked.”

He added that the legal service “do not have a good case”.

Meanwhile, Odysseas Michaelides has been given until May 17 to object to the case brought to the Supreme Constitutional Court to have him removed from his role.

By law, he is allowed a maximum of 21 days after the date on which the case was filed, April 26, to file an objection. The objection would not be examined separately from the initial case by the court but would instead be taken into account during the case for his dismissal.

Michaelides said on Saturday that he would file an objection to the case and that he had no further comment to add as “the judiciary will now have its say”.

On Tuesday, newspaper Phileleftheros reported that Michaelides’ legal team will not contest that attorney-general George Savvides has no right to apply to have him relieved of his duty, but that such a case will be made later during legal proceedings.

They added that Savvides had looked to cover his bases when filing the case to remove Michaelides, claiming that in his filing of the case, it had been written that he “is, by virtue of his position and the powers granted to him by the constitution, the pre-eminent defender of legality.”

It was reportedly added that Savvides has “the discretionary power in the public interest to initiate proceedings against any person in the Republic and is therefore legitimised and has a legal interest to file an application for the dismissal of the auditor-general due to misconduct”.