West News Wire: Cyprus foreign minister resigned on Sunday, citing concerns that rumors about his desire to run for president of the east Mediterranean island country next year was undermining his ministry’s and government’s work.
Nikos Christodoulides informed reporters that he sent President Nicos Anastasiades his resignation “a few days ago” and that it was finally accepted on Friday. Christodoulides will leave office on Monday, when he will meet with his Kuwaiti counterpart for negotiations.
Christodoulides, 48, said he “would be interested” in standing in the March 2023 election, but that it was far too early for him to formally register his candidacy, and he chastised what he called premature and fruitless campaigning, particularly in light of Covid-19 pandemic.
He also decried a move by his Centre-right Democratic Rally (DISY) party to expedite procedures to select a candidate when the party hierarchy had declared in October that it would leave that decision for the end of spring.
The reference pointed an indirect finger of blame at party leader Averof Neophytou, who harbors his own presidential ambitions. Neophytou last week called out Christodoulides to make clear his intentions, effectively challenging him to a one-on-one race for the DISY leadership which would, in turn, anoint the party’s presidential candidate.
Christodoulides, who served as foreign minister since March 2018 and was government spokesman for five years prior to that, has consistently ranked as one the most popular politicians in the country in numerous public opinion polls.
He said his candidacy would aim to forge a broad base of support from across the political spectrum including his own party, but he insisted that being a party leader was not a pre-requisite for a run at the presidency.
“These kinds of approaches serve those who invest in polarization and fanaticism and aren’t commensurate with modern democracies and values. I’m sorry, but I won’t follow that course,” Christodoulides said.