Cyprus coalition suffers setback in parliament election

10:49, June 03, 2011      

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The coalition parties of Cyprus on Thursday failed to elect their candidate to the important post of parliament speaker, suffering a setback which may strongly influence efforts to solve the long-standing Cyprus problem.

Left-wing AKEL party and its centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) partner were not able to re-elect DIKO Chairman Marios Karoyian as parliament speaker, the country's second most important political position only after the president.

A parliamentary election on May 22 resulted in government and opposition parties getting an equal number of seats in the 56- member parliament.

The chairman of the small socialist EDEK party, Yiannakis Omirou, who is a staunch opponent of President Demetris Christofias' policies on the Cyprus problem, was elected instead.

Omirou's election was made possible when one of DIKO's deputies, also opposing Christofias' policies, voted for him.

Christofias will have a strong critic of his policies as his second in command, since under Cyprus' constitution the parliament speaker deputizes for the president.

The parliament vote will not in any way affect the government stability under Cyprus' presidential system. However, political analysts in Nicosia say the result may eventually weaken cooperation between government coalition parties.

Such a development would leave AKEL and President Christofias completely isolated from all other parties in a critical phase of the Cyprus negotiations.

Many deputies, even those from the coalition partner, have been accusing Christofias of making several key concessions to the Turkish Cypriots without getting anything in return. A weakening, or even worse a breaking up, of the coalition is bound to lead to DIKO's objections surfacing even more loudly.

Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are scheduled to meet United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in Geneva on July 7, in a move designed to bring closer an agreement on reunifying the eastern Mediterranean island divided since 1974.

Analysts say that increasing opposition pressure on President Christofias may work either way. They believe that he may either try to speed up a solution before more opposition builds up, or follow a more reserved policy by holding back on the proposals he submitted to the Turkish Cypriot side.

The new parliament speaker had built his electoral campaign on a demand for the withdrawal of Christofias' proposals.

In a speech upon assuming his new post in parliament, Omirou said that a Cyprus solution based on these proposals would be deemed unacceptable.

Source: Xinhua
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