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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-28
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Sunday, July 28, 2002
 Your name's not down, you're not coming in…By Stefanos Evripidou
SECRECY shrouded the AKEL national party congress in Nicosia yesterday as extra precautionary measures were taken to prevent the probing eyes and ears of the media and other undesirables from nearing the site.
AKEL confirmed on Wednesday in an equally enigmatic central committee meeting the decision to back Tassos Papadopoulos in the elections, but called for a party congress to endorse the action.
The six-hour marathon meeting began amid tight security to rival that of a secret service wedding.
Burly men with concerted faces stood at the entrance to the conference centre, allowing only holders of specially issued AKEL cards to pass. In a move that would eliminate any high street café's clientele in a nanosecond, the gatecrasher guards then sent every owner of a mobile phone back to their vehicles to place the gadgets safely away from the walls of the congress, creating something of an exodus to the parking lot.
The media were kept well away from congress members before the proceedings began, positioned in the VIP cafeteria and left alone to speculate.
State television technicians only were allowed into the conference room to set up cameras for party leader Demetris Christofias' speech. The congress itself was closed to the media, apart from a spell when reporters were ushered in to hear a 14-page-long speech, and then escorted in file outside the building. The centre's employees were packed away near the pool area and only allowed access to the hall for the canteen break.
Over 1,000 people attended the congress, which stopped around midday for a recess. One party member, lingering outside during the break, told the Sunday Mail that the vast majority supported the move to back Papadopoulos, with little dissent, as the decision had already been discussed in local party sections.
To re-enter the building members had to show their cards again to the big friendly giant at the door. One clandestine reporter, however, compromised the stiff entry control by walking in behind two youthful female members.
Inside, he found a small group of participants swapping the second half of speech-making for a long smoke and cool frappé in the canteen.
Once his own position compromised, the reporter mumbled something about his granny going inside for a smoke to the stern guard who had previously refused him entry, and proceeded swiftly to the safety and freedom of the great outdoors.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 AKEL congress rubber-stamps Papadopoulos candidatureBy Jean Christou
COMMUNIST AKEL yesterday gave its full backing to centre-right DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos as its candidate in next year's presidential elections.
The national AKEL party congress sealed its endorsement of the decision to support Papadopoulos as presidential candidate with 939 votes for, 36 against and 34 abstentions.
Addressing the congress in Nicosia, party leader Demetris Christofias described Papadopoulos as a “powerful and winning” candidate who would be supported by the “democratic and progressive citizens of this country” in a drive that would “deprive today's leaders of the opportunity to enjoy the use of power”.
“We will face the election fight with the knowledge and awareness and realisation that from the desire for change, Cyprus will come out a winner, the people will come out winners and the ordinary man on the street will come out a winner,” Christofias said.
He said Papadopoulos had fulfilled all the criteria for eligibility as a presidential candidate as well as the criteria set by the party's central committee to secure a “people friendly” administration.
The central committee had thought “long and hard” and “very deeply” on the issue of the elections and decided not to put forward an AKEL candidate because they believed it would unleash a “rage of anti-communism” and further increase existing polarisation between left and right.
Papadopoulos, in a statement hand delivered to all newspapers and personally signed by him, said he was honoured at being chosen by AKEL.
“The decision honours me personally as well as the Democratic Party DIKO and its supporters,” he said.
AKEL on Wednesday confirmed what was already common knowledge when its central committee endorsed the decision to back Papadopoulos in the elections.
KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou, who has distanced himself from the three- party opposition coalition, clarified yesterday that his party had initially offered its support in a scenario where AKEL leader Christofias was chosen as presidential candidate.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Singing Greek on is way back homeBy Jean Christou
A GREEK Cypriot man jailed in the Turkish-controlled north last week was in Athens by noon yesterday and was expected back on the island later yesterday.
Vassos Elias, 25, was released on Friday and forced to face a 2,200- kilometre journey home through Turkey and Greece instead of a 100-metre walk across the Ledra Palace checkpoint.
He was put on a plane for Istanbul by Turkish Cypriot authorities after spending two weeks jailed in the north.
Elias, a builder, was convicted a week ago of illegal entry into the north on July 12 through a village which borders the Turkish-controlled areas and the British base of Dhekelia.
He was smuggled in by his Turkish Cypriot employee Osman Sinkerpi, who had invited him for a drink at his local tavern. During the evening, however, Elias was having such a good time that he forgot where he was and began singing loudly in Greek. 'Police' were called and he was arrested, remanded and later given an eight-day jail sentence. Sinkerpi was also jailed for eight days.
The Cyprus News Agency said yesterday Elias had arrived in Athens around noon from Istanbul and was being looked after by the Cypriot embassy there, which would issue him a new passport. He also called his wife, CNA said. Elias is married to a British woman and has a four-year old daughter.
He was sent back through Istanbul in a tit-for-tat move because the Greek Cypriot side had earlier this week returned a Turkish national via Athens.
The Turk was one of two convicts who escaped from jail in the north and fled to the south, where they were being held by police.
The other one was handed over to the UN on Wednesday and returned to the north after it was established that he was a Turkish Cypriot.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002