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Politics

Cypriot Minister Angrily Quits Over Call with President

NICOSIA — Cyprus' justice minister has angrily resigned, citing her boss' alleged remarks that she "harms" the government's image because of her earlier, controversial battles with online critics.

In an unusual move, Emily Yiolitis on Thursday made public a resignation letter in which she disclosed what she said were the contents of a private phone call with President Nicos Anastasiades. 

Yiolitis said she initiated the call to "gauge the real facts" following media references to her as the government's "weak link."

Yiolitis claimed Anastasiades told her he's "paying a political cost" for her presence in government because of her relationship with the president's "close family circle" and her previous social media posts.

The Oxford-educated lawyer said that during her two years in office she submitted "bills (that had been) collecting dust in the ministry's drawers," such as legislation on violence against women, reformed the fire department, led the island's #metoo movement and helped found a police body against animal abuse.

"Therefore with all due modesty, but bluntly, I submit to you that it's not I, dear President, who harms your image, and you pay no political cost because of my presence," Yiolitis wrote.

"Rather it is I who suffered the cost, and a heavy one at that, with agreeing to take part in a government that you know very well was not highly regarded by society in matters of corruption and transparency." 

Anastasiades and his government had come under scrutiny from political opponents in the last year over a lucrative investment-for-citizenship program that was scrapped amid allegations that the scheme fell victim to corrupt individuals enriching themselves on the taxpayer's back.

Last year, Yiolitis was caught up in a battle with online critics who mocked her perceived wealth, fashionable clothes and wealthy friends. 

She complained about one post to the police — who then raided a woman's home and seized her computer, triggering an outcry over freedom of speech rights.

The Supreme court annulled the search warrant, and Cyprus' police chief conceded that investigators may have over-reacted.. 

Anastasiades put out a statement saying that he accepted Yiolitis' resignation. 

Yiolitis was one of only three women ministers on Anastasiades' 15-member Cabinet.

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