DISY boss receives Church’s blessing

Elias Hazou – 22/2/13

NICOS Anastasiades’ presidential candidacy yesterday got another endorsement, albeit this time from a non-secular – yet highly political – source.

Archbishop Chrysostomos publicly lent his support to Anastasiades following a meeting with the DISY leader.

“The country needs a strong government, and we shall stand by the government and Mr. Anastasiades,” the prelate told newsmen.

The top cleric went on to wish Anastasiades success, even addressing him as “Mr. President.”

Responding to questions, Chrysostomos dismissed the notion that as, a religious leader, he should not meddle in politics.

Under “normal” political conditions, he said, the Church would do best to restrict itself to ecclesiastical matters.

But, he argued, due to the Turkish occupation, and the fact that many people are suffering in the economic squeeze, “the Church cannot keep its mouth shut.”

AKEL meanwhile did not deign to comment on the Archbishop’s choice.

“The answer is no comment,” party spokesman Giorgos Loucaides said. “Let the people judge the Archbishop.”

Anastasiades has already secured the backing of the European Party, which acquired 3.88 per cent in the May 2011 legislative elections. However, the party is reportedly split over the decision.

Meanwhile the two rival camps continued trading barbs yesterday. AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou rejected claims that their candidate Stavros Malas would continue the policies of the current government.

“He has no organic relationship to AKEL whatsoever,” Kyprianou said of Malas, who for 18 months served in the Cabinet of the Christofias administration.

The Anastasiades camp had a sardonic response:

“With all due respect to Mr. Kyprianou, listening to him reminds me of the likeable Pinocchio,” spokesman Tasos Mitsopoulos said.

Meanwhile as anticipated, socialists EDEK yesterday elected to support neither of the two remaining contenders in the runoff ballot this Sunday.

The party clarified that it was not calling on supporters to cast a conscience vote, nor to abstain from voting.

Rather, it’s understood they want their people to go to polling stations and to cast a blank or invalid ballot.

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, EDEK (then called the ‘Movement for Social Democracy’) garnered around 9 per cent of the popular vote.

The party had backed independent Giorgos Lillikas in the first round of these elections.

Also yesterday the United Democrats decided to instruct their supporters to vote by conscience. The party’s candidate Praxoulla Antoniadou received 0.61 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting last Sunday.