Dark room: from boom to bust

Good move

This is a week I bet Averof Neophytou (boss of the ruling Democratic Rally party) would very much like to forget. Averof is a very shrewd politician and he has produced some miracles behind the scenes. He was in his element during RoC's difficult MoU years, when he managed to pass reforms through a mostly hostile parliament.

And yet this week the Disy leader made a very unwise move. Last year, he and his closest advisers openly boasted how Disy's candidates for the coming May parliamentary elections would be picked by party members in an open election process and not by apparatchiks behind closed doors

turned bad

Alas, a disappointing 20% of Disy's party membership turned up on April 3 and paid Euros 20 each for the privilege of voting for their preferred candidates, which was a nice way of lining the Disy coffers with an additional Euros 100,000.

The popular decision was made and it then was up to Disy's political bureau to endorse it on Tuesday. Unfortunately for Averof, things didn't go as smoothly as he would have liked; the politburo appears to have manipulated the popular vote and managed to slip some names onto the final ballot paper that had been left out by voting party members.

It's not known for sure if Averof himself orchestrated things or if some candidates withdrew their names to give party favourites their place on the ballot. The latter is the official Disy explanation and, of course, has been refuted by everyone else - even by some very prominent party officials. Some of his own close friends and supporters even told me it's time for Averof to take some 'firm action' if he doesn't want to lose control of the party.

Dark deeds

Many people in the north are wondering whether Turkey had a hand in the collapse of the grand CTP-UBP coalition.

As is often the case in Cyprus, a number of scenarios are doing the rounds. However, insiders tell me that even if Turkey had intervened, the schism would have happened on a bureaucratic - and not on a senior political - level.

My sources also reminded me that Turkish bureaucrats were fighting with their CTP counterparts over the management of the water pipeline from Turkey as well as the economic protocol - as Ankara's annual handout to northern Cyprus is called.

At a certain point, Turkish officials had also warned CTP apparatchiks that they 'have pushed their luck' with the above issues.

Block Six

What inspired Nicos Anastasiades to put Block 6 in Cyprus' EEZ up for grabs in the third round of hydrocarbon licensing? Why would he do so when Turkey claims that the said block falls within its own continental shelf -and the President himself has said he doesn't want to "aggravate the situation" and damage the ongoing peace talks?

These are the million-dollar questions being asked by fo-reign diplomats, who wish to see the political problem solved as soon as possible. Most of them also offer an answer, arguing that Anastasiades announced the third licensing round to boost support for his Disy party in the May elections - or even to build a solid base for his own presidential campaign in 2018.

Akel (publicly) and Disy (privately) also both posit that the move was made for political rather than strictly economic reasons.

Spokesman - and writer

The word is out that Nicos Christodoulides, the government spokesman and apparently the President's clo-sest aide, is writing a book.

I can confirm the news and add that Nicos is currently writing two books: one on Cyprob and the other on an as-yet-undisclosed subject. I am tempted to reveal the theme, but I gave my word not to ruin the suspense.

Nevertheless, I really admire Nicos.

He is doing three very demanding jobs (spokesman, head of President's diplomatic office and member of Cyprob negotiating team), he is the proud father of four and still finds time for writing.

Source: In-Cyprus