Veteran politician, former Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides dies (Update 3)

Vassos Lyssarides, former Edek leader and founding member of the party, passed away on Monday afternoon, aged 100.

Lyssarides had been a central figure in Cyprus politics since the island’s independence. 

Current Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos honoured Lyssarides shortly after the news broke, writing on Twitter that: “It is with deep sorrow but also pride that I bid farewell to the champion of democracy and freedom, who dedicated his life for the freedom of Cyprus. 

“The doctor, the painter, the poet, Vassos Lyssarides. Your struggles will always guide us.” 

Lyssarides became involved in politics early on as a medical student in Athens, campaigning for Enosis and took an active part in the armed anti-colonial struggle of Eoka for Enosis against the British. 

President Nicos Anastasiades also paid his respects, writing on Twitter that: “Cyprus has lost Vassos Lyssarides, one of the historical leaders who defined the identity of the Republic. 

“We owe much to him. Above all, however, we owe it to him to fight for a free homeland.” 

The news of Lyssarides’ death led to widespread commemorations from across the political spectrum.  

Born on May 13, 1920, Lyssarides played a crucial role in the events leading up to – and following – Cyprus struggle for independence.  

Lyssarides commanded his own armed group which was to play a significant role in key events, most notably forging a strong alliance with Archbishop Makarios. Lyssarides also served as Makarios’ personal physician.  

The armed group fought against Turkish Cypriots and Turkish officers in the  Pentadaktylos during the intercommunal troubles in 1963-1964 and against Eoka B from 1971-1974.

He survived an assassination attempt on August 30, 1974. During the attack, Edek youth leader Doros Loizou was killed

In 1960 he was elected member of the first parliament of the Republic as a candidate for the Patriotic Front and remained an MP until 2006.

In 1969, Lyssarides founded Edek, the first socialist political party of Cyprus.  

He was repeatedly elected president of his party until 2001, at which point he passed on the reins of power to the younger generation.  

He had close connections with other anti-colonial, liberation or otherwise left-wing figures such as Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Fidel Castro and Josip Tito.  

He was elected and served as president of the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991. 

Lyssarides never held the office of president, despite running in 1983, 1988 and 1998, but was widely respected and influential as an MP and leader of Edek.  

He was regarded as a hardliner on the Cyprus problem as he strongly opposed a bizonal and bicommunal federation.

He was married to an American, Barbara Cornwall, who predeceased him. The couple had no children. 

 

Details of his funeral can be found here.

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