President Nicos Anastasiades is to refer a contentious bill transferring the power to rule on school commemorations from parliament to the education ministry, to the supreme court on grounds of unconstitutionality, the South’s deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Monday.
Papadopoulos said a legal opinion by the attorney-general “says that unconstitutional issues come up with regard to one power clashing with another”.
He was referring to the constitutionally imposed separation of powers, which may be compromised by a clause in the bill stipulating that the education ministry would be tasked with decision-making over school holidays and in-class commemorations “following consultation with” the House education committee.
It is understood that subsequently Anastasiades himself had requested a legal opinion from the Attorney General.
The initial Enosis commemoration bill, tabled by far-right Elam MPs outraged the Turkish Cypriot community, with leader Mustafa Akinci refusing to continue with the ongoing Cyprus negotiations until “the mistake is corrected”.
Given that Akinci would not back down on the issue, Greek Cypriot opposition parties and even two MPs from Disy, condemned the new amendment, arguing that voting for it would give the appearance that the Greek Cypriot side was giving in to Akinci’s blackmail.
With regard to legislative proposals approved by parliament, the constitution allows the president the options of signing, vetoing, or referring them to the supreme court, at any time within 15 days of the House vote.
According to Greek Cypriot daily ‘Politis’, if the bill is found to be unconstitutional, Anastasiades plans to replace it with a similar government bill, which would not include a consultation phase between the education ministry and parliament.