Opposition Talks Consensus Government Measures
The government's future hangs in the balance amid meetings between opposition parties to discuss the possibility of forming a national consensus government in the wake of President Demetris Christofias' refusal to resign over the deadly explosion at Evangelos Florakis base in Mari.
The president is under immense pressure to take responsibility for the July 11th blast, but forcefully repeated his refusal to step down yesterday.
"The opposition is trying to artificially create a crisis for selfish reasons...The president will hold his office until the end of his term. Every person, without exception must understand this! " said Christofias, pounding his fist on an unsuspecting podium at a gathering for Turkish-held Morphou.
A public inquiry led by barrister Polys Polyviou found that Christofias has personal and political responsibility for the tragedy, which killed 13 and injured 62 as well as critically damaging the island's main power plant. Christofias immediately rejected the inquiry's findings, saying they were unsubstantiated and rejecting personal responsibility.
Opposition parties are united in their condemnation of the president's position and have called for early elections. In addition, MPs are reportedly planning a House resolution calling for the president to step down.
But ruling communist party AKEL insists that the opposition is trying to accomplish a 'political coup' and that it is trying to "discredit and intimidate state institutions and persons."
"This behaviour...puts our country on a very dangerous path which we will not follow," said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.
Opposition party leader Nikos Anastassiades has called for the president to step down or call early elections, citing the public's loss of trust in Christofias' government. The president no longer has a mandate to lead the country, say opposition parties, pointing to opinion polls and mass demonstrations that have been held since the blast on July 11th.
"The president and his party have themselves given up their responsibilities," said DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou.
Opposition parties DISY, EDEK, and DIKO say there are suggestions on the table to propose a consensus candidate to serve as interim President of the Republic should President Demetris Christofias decided to resign after all.
The idea is being considered as a counter to AKEL's argument that the president should not resign because the island faces an immediate crisis over Turkey's threats on offshore oil and gas exploration rights. If a consensus candidate is ready to take over in the case that the president resigns, then there would be no interruption of government during the 45-day period before new elections, say opposition parties.
EDEK and DIKO also said they are considering suspending talks with AKEL on December 18th municipal elections in the wake of the president's refusal to take responsibility for the deadly explosion at Mari. AKEL Spokesman George Loukaides said that this "can't be justified for any reason," but failed to convince EDEK and DIKO, whose representatives said they would decide next week.
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