Tense Face-off in Kellaki During Motorcade Protest
Around 240 'Indignants' drove up to the village at 6pm to protest against the deaths of 13 men who were killed in the July 11th explosion at Mari naval base. Once there, they were prevented from entering the village, which is where Christofias lives. Riot police separated the 'Indignants' from another group of protestors who back the president and carried a banner reading 'We support the President of the Republic.'
"The 'Indignants' will never get into the village," said one Kellaki resident speaking to CyprusNewsReport.com.
Amid clear tension in both protest groups, our photographer was bullied and insulted by the president's supporters.
"Why is the press talking like that about the president?" shouted one protestor, who approached our photographer threateningly.
In the end, police intervened to protect the photographer and transported him to safety in a police car. There were roadblocks on both sides of the village and both police and military personnel were present.
The 'Indignants' mission was to demand that the president resign and accept political responsibility for the tragic accident at Mari naval base, in which 13 men were killed.
A spokeswoman for the movement told Sigma TV that she had heard rumours that provocateurs were planning to make trouble, and publicly asked the police to be on guard and "keep their eyes open". The 'Indignants' are apolitical, said spokeswoman Mary Michail. Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou denied that the government organised the counter protest in Kellaki.
In the wake of the explosion on July 11th, the government has been reshuffled, seven officers in the army and fire service suspended and the deputy chief of the national guard was fired. Last week, the government decided to pay 2.79 million euros in compensation to the families of the 13 men who were killed in the explosion.
But to date, the government's attempts to make amends have fallen on stony ground. Public protests have not abated over the tragedy and there are daily calls for the president to step down. With little in the way of confidence in the new government or the investigation, the explosion's shockwave continues to reverberate through the island.
The motorcade protest was held on August 15th, one of the holiest days in the Orthodox calendar, but not even this traditional restday has been taken by the 'Indignants', who have repeatedly shown that nothing will stop them except the president's resignation.