Christodoulides resigns as FM, says will decide on presidential candidacy when he sees fit (Updated)
Nicos Christodoulides (CNA)
Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides announced his resignation on Sunday, saying he had submitted it to the president some days ago and it had been accepted on Friday.
He thanked President Nicos Anastasiades “for the trust he has shown me and for the opportunity he has given me to serve my country from the high position of minister of foreign affairs”.
“I would be interested in my candidacy in the 2023 presidential election. I think it is not yet time for any decisions on this and I have not announced anything so far,” he added. “I will make announcements for the 2023 elections when I make a decision.”
He said such a long electioneering period during a time of numerous challenges, including a pandemic, was not good for the country or the work the government needed to do.
“Early and long pre-election periods are counterproductive and do not benefit the country or the citizens,” he said.
There has been months of speculation as to whether Christodoulides would run as a candidate in the 2023 presidential election, causing some turbulence within ruling Disy.
Disy president Averof Neophytou on Friday upped the pressure on Christodoulides to declare his intentions with a surprise move that effectively refers the choice of candidate to the party base.
He announced that he’d step down as party leader if Christodoulides submitted his name for selection as the party’s presidential candidate by Monday, and hold a leadership election with the winner also being anointed presidential candidate.
Christodoulides said on Sunday he was not interested in heading the party.
In televised statements he said he would make an announcement about the presidentials when he has made a decision and “not to suit the timeframes of others”, whose ambitions he fully respects. He has every right to do this, he said.
The party is due to initiate the process on Monday when persons interested in running for president on the party ticket should submit their candidacy, with the nomination to be decided by an electoral congress in March where approximately 1,800 delegates vote by secret ballot.
Neophytou has already announced that he will seek the nomination. But despite persistent rumours,
Christodoulides had refused to show his hand amid speculation he was eyeing an independent run that could split Disy.
Disy has already brought forward its nomination procedure in what was widely seen as an attempt to smoke out Christodoulides who has been seen as engaging in ‘covert campaigning’.
Neophytou said Disy had faced a “war of rumours” and “a dark” battle being conducted so that some people can avoid any confrontation with clearcut, democratic, political terms, avoid taking a public position so as to simultaneously straddle two boats – party legality and an independent anti-systemic course.
Christodoulides said his resignation was the result of a series of events and attitudes, public and otherwise, that had taken place in recent times and “that inevitably and unfortunately” affect the serious work that the government has to do.
“Cyprus is facing an unprecedented global pandemic with multiple socio-economic consequences that each of us is experiencing,” he said. “The same goes for my resignation at a time when there are critical issues on the table”.
Christodoulides said that in October 2021, Disy “solemnly announced” that all of the pre-election dialogue would taken place at the end of spring 2022.
He said it was obvious that the sudden acceleration of processes led to an inversion of that plan.
“I judge, for the reasons I mention today and in my previous positions, that it is not yet time for any decisions. That is why until today I have not personally shown interest in the presidential elections, despite what has been heard,” he said.
“To note at the same time that I have never expressed interest in the presidency of Disy, which as the decision of President Anastasiades in 2008 proves, is not a prerequisite for claiming the presidency of the Republic. I’m sorry but I will not follow.”
He said Cyprus did not need political sharks but a good captain who would join forces and build solid partnerships, both inside Cyprus and abroad, “which is also crucial in a more globalised environment”.