Personal and ideological rivalries are surfacing among Greek Cypriot politicans, complicating the difficult problem of choosing a successor to the late Archbishop Makarios. At the center of the differences is the question of how the transfer of power will affect negotiations with Turkish Cypriots.
Rightwing political maverick Glafkos Clerides wants Greek Cypriots to move quickly to elect a leader who can take control firmly.
Leftwing parties, supported by the loose grouping of center-right Makarios loyalists, are anxious to continue the present political balance, which is heavily in their favor. They want a six-month "caretaker" presidency before "substantive elections" next February.
Clerides argues that a credible leader, not an interim preisdent, is needed now to pursue negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots and forestall further hardening of the Turkish bargaining position.
Other parties suspect Clerides of hoping for a righwing president who would probably make fresh concessions to Turkish demands in order to get a settlement at almost any price. Leftwing parties advocate a "long struggle" claiming negotiations amount to a futile succession of one-side concessions.
Acting President Spiro Kyprianou, who appears to be the likeliest candidate for the six-month presidency, shares the moderate view the negotiations are essential to resolve the present Cyprus impasse. On the other hand, he can also taste the advantages of six months in power, possibly to build a power base for seeking a full five-year term.
With so much at stake, the current consultations - despite initial hopes for a quick show of unity - now appear unlikely to reach a quick conclusion. Negotiations will resume after Makarios' state funeral on Monday. Makarios' funeral rites will begin in Nicosia and end at his mausoleum in the Troados mountains overlooking much of the island.
Chief Justice Warren Burger led the U.S. delegation to the funeral.
In the end, Makarios loyalists seem likely to prevail over Clerides, whose call for immediate elections would also entail by-passing the Constitution - a step that his opponents claim would play into Turkish Cypriot hands.
Instead, the left and center parties want Kyprianou to run unopposed in September, for the temporary presidency, reducing the vote to a formality.
Clerides can always torpedo this plan by fielding a candidate. In the prevailing mood of loyalty to Makarios' memory, however, an act of defiance could prove as disastrous for Clerides as his elimination from Parliament last year when he defied the Makarios line.
Kyprianou, a colorless former foreign minister whom Makarios put in charge of a loosely organized loyalist party for last year's elections, told reporters his health - known to be frail - was not obstancle to his political future.
While political leaders are working to arrange an orderly transfer of power and maintain a unified front, the task of filling the gap left by Makarios, Kyprianou admitted, alreay is causing "difficulties."