NICOSIA Feb 4 Cyprus's outgoing government appointed a deputy governor of its Central Bank on Monday, saying it was warranted by a tougher workload in the banking sector ahead of an impending international financial bailout.
The unexpected appointment triggered criticism from opposition parties asserting the outgoing left wing government was trying to consolidate its influence over the central bank less than a fortnight before elections on Feb. 17.
Incumbent Cypriot President Demetris Christofias is not seeking re-election
The Democratic Rally party, whose candidate Nicos Anastasiades is a frontrunner to win the poll, said it would review all recent appointments by the present government.
The deputy governor, Spyros Stavrinakis, is a close aide of Central Bank governor Panicos Demetriades. Cyprus's banking system is under stress from its exposure to Greece, and its need for state support was a key reason behind Cyprus requesting financial aid from the EU and the IMF last June.
"The crisis that we are in creates the need for further assistance to the Governor of the Central Bank,"
Until now, Cyprus was the only euro zone member without a deputy governor, the central bank said. Under a preliminary deal with international lenders, the central bank will assume supervision of an extensive co-operative banking system this year, in addition to its commercial banks.
Cyprus's central bank, established in 1963, does by statute have a governor and a deputy governor
The post has not been filled for half a century because of conflict which has split Cyprus between its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations Filling the post comes under a legal discretion known as the law of necessity.
"This is the last provocative act of this government, unless they discover any other 50-year old vacancy and decide to fill that too," the Rally party said in a statement. (Writing by Michele Kambas; editing by Ron Askew)