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Mayor Savvas Vergas, who is serving an eight-day remand order pending investigations in local affairs, resigned on Tuesday with Paphos now headed to byelections on January 11.
His decision, conveyed by lawyers to Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos, helps resolve an impasse created by Vergas’ involvement in several cases in the town that has also seen a chain of corruption scandals being revealed by the day.
Hasikos said that by-elections will be held 45 days from the day the post has been vacated.
The municipal council is presently being Deputy Mayor Makis Roussis.
On Monday, Hasikos said that the missing millions at the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) may be “the tip of the iceberg” and that many more people may be involved in the bribes and graft related to the matter.
Mayor and ex-officio chairman of the SAPA board, Savvas Vergas, as well as SAPA Manager Eftychios Malekides and former DISY councilman Giorgos Michaelides were held on an eight-day court remand last Thursday as the police and state audit services investigate alleged cases of bribery, corruption and inflation of budgets that has left the project at a standstill and the coastal town looking like a permanent work site.
The whole project, that includes the nearby villages of Kissonerga, Chlorakas, Emba, Peyia, etc., should have cost EUR 78 mln to complete and contractors have said the cost has already risen to 109 mln, with some communities
by considering cutting off going it alone.
“You must realise that even when the President of the Republic places himself under investigation, consider how far this can go. We have great faith in the investigating authorities, the police, the Attorney General’s office, and if some people have to be taken to court, so be it,” Hasikos told reporters on Sunday.
President Nicos Anastasiades told Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides when receiving the latter’s annual report for 2013 last week that no one should be spared from public scrutiny, let alone the first citizen of the Republic.
Vergas had been previously charged with involvement in the transmission of threatening SMS messages to developer Theodoros Aristodemou, whose company Aristo is alleged to have conducted illicit zoning deals in cooperation with local municipal officials.
Hasikos said that the reform of local administration is also at an advanced stage. “The political parties and the Union of Municipalities have submitted their own counter proposals. The Ministry will consider all options in connection with the draft legislation we have already submitted. I hope we will find a compromise solution that will see the bill head to parliament, as all the suggestions so far contain a lot of positive aspects.”
Adding that this is not a matter of the Minister adding water to his wine, Hasikos said he believes the draft bill may be ready by the end of the year.
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