By Annie Charalambous
Opposition Akel-backed scientist Stavros Malas should not be tainted as a failed candidate as he gives the presidential race a second go, the left-wing party’s leader told the Cyprus Weekly.
And his critics should drop this “unfounded” argument in their bid to taint his February 2018 bid, said Andros Kyprianou – leader of the second largest party.
“(Late president) Glafcos Clerides had run four times before getting elected, so the argument that Stavros Malas lost the first time and cannot win the second time around is unfounded,” Kyprianou said.
“Stavros Malas continues to have the same high-quality personality traits that have distinguished him; he is incorruptible, with a very high sense of social justice, and his political positions on crucial issues are very close to those of Akel,” he added.
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Kyprianou also dismissed recent accusations made by Paphos mayor Phedon Phedonos on alleged misuse of Turkish Cypriot property by a number of former and incumbent officials – including Malas’ father.
“Attempts to slander Stavros Malas through his father are nothing but a joke…unfortunately, though, we live in Cyprus where we jump to conclusions before even an investigation takes place.”
“Each and every reported case should be investigated on its own merit.”
Malas – the former health minister and geneticist – had run on Akel’s ticket in 2013 and lost to right-wing Disy-backed President Nicos Anastasiades who is expected to officially announce his bid for re-election in October. Disy is the island’s largest party.
Pundits say it will be tough but not impossible for him to make it to the second round with Anastasiades – most probably – as his rival again.
The presidency is also contested by hardline centre Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos who enjoys the support of socialist Edek and MEP Eleni Theocharous’ Solidarity Movement.
As well as by Citizens Alliance leader George Lillikas who is not backed by any parliamentary party yet.
Lillikas had run again for president back in 2013 and had come in third with an honourable enough percentage and without support from any party.
Kyprianou said that – as a political personality – Malas has matured since his last bid for the presidency and expressed the wish society, itself, did the same.
“After five years of governance by Anastasiades, who made too many commitments that he has not met, the hope is that this time around he will be judged on his deeds,” Kyprianou said.
“And the justified criticism that can be exerted (on Anastasiades) can only benefit the candidacy of Malas. It is a candidacy that can win the election this time,” he added.
Malas will officially announce his candidacy tomorrow and Akel plans to hold a conference on September 17 to draft its election manifesto.
Akel will probably carry out its first internal poll a month after the campaign kicks-off.
And the door seems to be kept open for Lillikas, whose political career was launched on Akel’s ticket, even though they parted on bad terms.
“I consider that all those (candidates) who won’t make it to the second round will have an important role to play and I believe that Lillikas would find it easier to join forces with the Left because of his background.
“We have opposite positions on the Cyprus problem, but on socio-economic issues the Citizens Alliance used to vote the same as Akel…we are ready to discuss cooperation with the Alliance.”