NICOSIA – Three new members were sworn in on March 14 as part of a mini-shuffle by President Nicos Anastasiades who has been facing a series of challenges over a bailout deal he accepted from international lenders and with new peace talks beginning with the Turkish Cypriots, who still unlawfully occupy the northern third of the island.
The changes came in the wake of the departure of the DIKO party from the uneasy coalition government last night that is led by the center-right party leader Anastasiades.
He replaced his his defense, education, communications and health ministers, three of them from DIKO which quit the year-old coalition last month in protest at the government’s plans to re-start peace talks with estranged Turkish Cypriots.
The former communications minister was re-assigned the Defense Ministry.
Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis, responsible for overseeing development of Cyprus’s offshore hydrocarbons discoveries, remained in his post.
He resigned from DIKO in early March but Anastasiades replaced the education defense and health ministers who hail from DIKO, even though they quit the party too.
The energy post has become the most important in the government as Cyprus seeks to develop potentially lucrative off-shore oil and gas reserves.