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Kyprianou: Akel need valued candidate

By Annie Charalambous
Opposition Akel have yet to approach possible candidates for February’s 2018 presidential elections, the left-wing party’s leader Andros Kyprianou told the Cyprus Weekly in an interview.

And this, even though the island’s second-biggest political force receives plenty of ‘suggestions’ from its party faithful.

“I see press reports saying we are approaching this or that possible candidate, we have not approached anyone, not yet. Even though we get plenty of suggestions – even from (right-wing) Disy faithful,” Kyprianou said.

“Akel’s possible runner cannot be affiliated with the Right that would be contradictory to our ideology. Our candidate cannot be one whose positions have not been consistent with ours, either. Akel values consistency,” he added.

His comments certainly rule out the possible backing of Citizens Alliance leader and former minister George Lillikas who rushed to announce his independent candidacy early this year.

He seemed to believe the left-wingers, who are still paying the price for the failed Demetris Christofias administration, would have no other realistic option.

However, Lillikas is persona non-grata for many left-wingers because he had climbed up the ladder of his political career on their ticket, but broke ranks along the way making ferocious enemies within. And he also turned from a moderate on the Cyprus problem to a hardliner.

Kyprianou also dismissed a much-rumoured possible backing of former top-ranking Akel member Nicos Katsourides, who has been expelled over his alleged involvement in financial scandals that tainted the party’s reputation.

When asked, Kyprianou’s laconic response was: “Katsourides has been expelled”.

Kyprianou laughs when asked whether he will end up being the party’s candidate – something that is strongly speculated.

“I would be the last choice,” he concedes.

He is keen to talk about the fresh round of UN-brokered Cyprus talks that began in Nicosia on Tuesday, aiming to reunite the divided island.

“My wish is that the two leaders who are now back at the negotiating table are there with sincere political will, otherwise they are wasting time, valuable time, for a much-needed Cyprus settlement.

“We have sent out messages, our proposals, to both leaders. We proposed that crucial issues should be discussed as a package and come to a conclusion only if agreement is reached on all,” he added.

Kyprianou believes that both leaders are no longer focused whole-heartedly on the 23-month-long process which was suspended in February after Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked away from the negotiating table.

He argues that both leaders appear to have different agendas now, with Anastasiades eyeing his re-election next year, even though he has not made any official announcement.

And Akinci seems to be bowing to pressure from within his party by members less keen to see the island reunited and more willing to toe Turkey’s line.

“It is now or never, all difficult issues must be discussed… I know we said it before that this is the last chance for the Cyprus problem to be solved, but I’m very scared this is the last chance – indeed.”

Talks stalled after Parliament passed a regulation for state schools to commemorate the 1950 Enosis (union with Greece) referendum, infuriating the Turkish Cypriot side.

Disy came up with a compromise; proposing the shift of decision-making power on school celebrations from Parliament to the Education Ministry. And with the backing of Akel, it was passed by a majority vote last week.

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