DIKO Party to quit Cyprus Coalition

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A party voted to pull its four ministers out of Cyprus’ 11-member Cabinet to protest the president’s handling of talks to unify the ethnically-divided country.

In a 97-81 vote, Democratic Party — or DIKO — central committee members ratified an earlier vote by the party’s top executive body to vacate the defense, education, health and energy ministries.

DIKO spokeswoman Christiana Erotokritou said ministers will immediately hand in their resignations. The decision doesn’t affect the running of government apart from necessitating a Cabinet reshuffle.

But it does underscore DIKO leader Nicholas Papadopoulos’ staunch opposition to a document on which President Nicos Anastasiades agreed with breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu earlier this month that enabled the resumption of stalled peace talks.

Papadopoulos criticized Anastasiades for making too many concessions in the document. He said the document hints at separate Turkish Cypriot statehood which could unravel any envisioned federation.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup to unite the island with Greece. DIKO garnered around 16 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections.

Anastasiades enjoys the support of the country’s two largest parties — the right-wing Democratic Rally party which he led before his election last year and the left-wing AKEL party.

But other smaller parties have also criticized the document as being fraught with dangers that could lead to an unfair peace accord.