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Cyprus Internet Directory [ How DIKO kept everyone guessing ]

How DIKO kept everyone guessing

FOR HOURS yesterday, the champagne stayed on ice as the two presidential candidates were kept guessing as to who would get the support of the outgoing party in government, the Democratic Party (DIKO).

DIKO members fought it out in marathon sessions of party organs to decide whether the party should swing left or right in choosing who to support in Sunday’s election for the next president of the Republic.

According to reports, presidential hopeful Ioannis Kasoulides had hit it off with DIKO leader Marios Karoyan after their meeting on Monday, leaving with the impression that DIKO’s support was in the bag. By yesterday however, it became clear that the centre-right party was experiencing a significant rift between Kasoulides backers and those who supported the candidacy of Demetris Christofias.

Reports suggested DIKO’s executive office was split between Kasoulides backers (European Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, Fotis Fotiou, Akis Kleanthous and Angelos Votsis) and Christofias supporters (Nicos Kleanthous and Athina Kyriakidou).

However, the chasm between the two camps was evident when DIKO’s executive committee failed to conclude its meeting yesterday, convening at 2.30pm and running into the time allocated for a meeting of the central committee set for 5pm. The executive office called the meeting to a halt just before 7pm without reaching agreement on which candidate to put forward to the central committee.

The president’s son, Nicholas Papadopoulos, said he would not vote in the central committee meeting unless there was a secret ballot so no connections could be made with the positions of his father. Other party members ruled out holding a secret ballot arguing it was not allowed by the party charter.

Meanwhile, during the marathon session, a number of DIKO members gathered at the party headquarters demanding an extraordinary party conference to decide on the issue.

The party leadership had been in favour of proposing Kasoulides to the central committee, but could not get the approval of the executive office, where a number of members were pushing to back Christofias. Eventually, the executive office agreed to disagree, and at around 7pm, disbanded with a view to let the central committee vote on who the party will back this Sunday. A list of the arguments for and against was prepared for the committee. The talks went on into the night.

The decision by outgoing president Tassos Papadopoulos not to endorse either candidate seemed to have thrown a spanner in the works of the centre-right party. Reports circulating put Papadopoulos in favour of a resumption of the government partnership that has ruled the country for the last five years but obviously with AKEL in the driving seat. However, top DIKO members were reluctant to back communist party AKEL, preferring instead to push for a right-wing leadership.

With EDEK all but certain to back Christofias, the DIKO decision would play an important role in Sunday’s elections. Papadopoulos’ neutrality may have been taken to avoid backing Kasoulides but the result seemed to add to a deepening power struggle between the old and new guard within DIKO.

DIKO founder Spiros Kyprianou had backed right-wing DISY in 1993, getting five ministers out of it, and his son Markos and others reportedly wanted to follow a similar path in 2008. However, Papadopoulos and his backers were not of a similar persuasion.

By not taking a side, Papadopoulos upset his former government partner, Christofias who told reporters he was not very happy with the decision. The AKEL leader said he had hoped the outgoing president would endorse his candidacy in the second round.
Earlier in the day, both Kasoulides and Christofias sent papers listing their positions on various issues, including the Cyprus problem and domestic affairs, to Karoyan.
Speculation on the commitments made behind closed doors centred on the pledge not to return to the Annan plan, and the number of ministries offered. State broadcaster CyBC reported that Kasoulides had offered as many as five ministries to DIKO, including the foreign ministry, while Christofias had offered three, including the foreign ministry, as well as the House Presidency. There were even reports that Christofias pledged to spend only one term in office if elected.

Both Christofias and Kasoulides also flirted with the fringe parties, Evroko, Greens and ADIK yesterday, none of which have made any decisions yet.

EDEK is due to confirm support for Christofias today in a meeting of its central committee.

The man responsible for the Papadopoulos re-election campaign, Georgios Lillikas kept everyone guessing as to what his next step would be. Lillikas originally announced a press conference for Monday, which many believed he would use to announce a coalition of support for Christofias’ candidacy. The press meeting was pushed back a day, following reports of Papadopoulos’ neutrality. By yesterday evening, the press conference never materialised.

Titina Loizidou, who famously took Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights and won, came out in support of Kasoulides, along with former DISY leader and independent MEP Yiannakis Matsis.

Meanwhile, opinion columns in yesterday’s press were cautious as to what this week’s horse trading and alliances would mean for Cyprus and the next five years.

Politis editor Andreas Paraschos questioned whether alliances with former government parties would bring partition policies through the back door.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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