Three Diko Ministers broke ties with their party yesterday, freeing the hands of President Anastasiades as he decides on the composition of the cabinet, but enraging their own leadership.
Education Minister Kyriakos Kenevezos, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou and Health Minister Petros Petrides, as all other members of cabinet, have put their resignations at Anastasiades’ disposal.
Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis resigned from Diko late last week amid reports he may retain his portfolio.
Kenevezos – a former Diko general secretary, and Fotiou, a former spokesman, issued separate announcements saying they were suspending their membership from the party over its decision to withdraw its support from Anastasiades.
Diko decided by a narrow vote 10 days ago to quit the government in protest at Anastasiades’ handling of the Cyprus issue and instructed their ministers to leave immediately.
They – and the other cabinet members -- resigned, but Anastasiades asked them to stay until mid March to give him time to decide how to proceed.
Using toughly worded language Kenevezos and Fotiou said they believed Diko should play a part as a coalition party in efforts to find a Cyprus settlement.
And they accused the new leadership of Diko of sacrificing the good of the country at the altar of other interests.
Official Diko responded in kind, saying the party was not about ‘state positions and chairs’, but the thousands of members and their commitment to the Cyprus cause.
“Mssrs Kenevezos, Petrides and Fotiou chose personal paths and not those of a common struggle with the members and supporters of the Democratic, party,” said spokeswoman Christiana Erotocritou.
Diko insists that Anastasiades has reneged on his pre-election promise on the Cyprus issue. Asked what would happen if the president asked the three to stay on, Erotocritou said this would be considered a hostile act.
Anastasiades must now decide whether to keep his cabinet unchanged and risk burning bridges with Diko’s new leadership – or seek new members from the periphery of the centre.
Opting to retain the Diko members risks plunging the president into the bitter conflict underway at the centrist party. Failure to do so could see him tarred as ungrateful to those within Diko who helped elect him president and have backed him in his first year in office.