Offbeat Election in Northern Cyprus: the outgoing leader favored against the Ankara candidate

12:05  18 october  2020
12:05  18 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Presidential elections were held in Northern Cyprus on 11 October 2020 alongside a constitutional referendum. They were originally scheduled to take place on 26 April 2020

Elections in Northern Cyprus , are organized to elect governments, presidents and representatives of local administrative bodies in Northern Cyprus , known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus . The presidency, which is served in five-year terms

Un électeur dépose son bulletin pour le scrutin présidentiel de la RTCN, dans un bureau de vote dans la partie nord de Nicosie, le 18 octobre 2020 © Birol BEBEK A voter casts his ballot for the presidential ballot of the TRNC, at a polling station in the northern part of Nicosia, on the 18th October 2020

The leader of North Cyprus Mustafa Akinci leaves favorite Sunday to win a new mandate at the head of this self-proclaimed Republic against the protege of Ankara Ersin Tatar, a second round in the shadow of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Outgoing "President" of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Turkey, Mr. Akinci came in second in the first round with nearly 30% of the vote, behind Mr. Tatar (over 32 %). But he should, except surprise, win against the outgoing "Prime Minister" thanks to the support of Tufan Erhurman, who came third last Sunday.

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Parliamentary elections were held in Northern Cyprus on 7 January 2018 to elect the 50 members of the Assembly of the Republic for a five-year term.

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots demonstrate against Ankara . In 1974 a rightwing coup aimed at a union with Greece prompted the Turkish army to invade and seize the island’s northern third. “And he is the only one who really knows how to solve the Cyprus problem. The machinery is all there.

Le dirigeant de Chypre-Nord Mustafa Akinci (2è d) et sa femme Meral lors d'un rassemblement pour le deuxième tour de la présidentielle dans la partie nord de Nicosie, le 16 octobre 2020 © Birol BEBEK The leader of Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akinci (2nd d) and his wife Meral during a rally for the second round of the presidential election in the northern part of Nicosia, October 16, 2020

The 738 polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. GMT) and will close at 6:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. GMT). Some 199,000 people are called to vote out of more than 300,000 inhabitants in the TRNC.

The election comes in a context of strong tensions around the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean between Ankara and Athens, the main ally of the Republic of Cyprus - only recognized by the international community and member of the European Union since 2004 - which exercises its authority over the southern two-thirds of the divided island.

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The National Unity Party (Turkish: Ulusal Birlik Partisi, UBP) is a national-conservative political party in Northern Cyprus . It was founded by Rauf Denktaş on 11 October 1975. The party was in power from its creation until the 2003 elections with the exception of the period from 1994–1996.

After drilling off North Cyprus, the return this week of a Turkish exploration vessel in waters claimed by Greece stirred up discord and led to a condemnation by EU leaders on Friday of "provocations "from Turkey, threatened with sanctions.

Having long worked for reconciliation with the Greek Cypriots, Mr. Akinci maintains stormy relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This 72-year-old social democrat, who defends the reunification of Cyprus in the form of a federal state, has never hidden his intention to loosen ties with Ankara. Mr. Tatar, a 60-year-old nationalist, defends a two-state solution.

- "Only solution" -

"The only and good solution is the solution with a federal state", affirms Said Kenan at the exit of a polling station. Boasting the island's "strategic" geographical location, this 76-year-old cardiologist explains that Cyprus could get by on its own thanks to hydrocarbons, which attract so many countries "around the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots".

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Northern Cyprus nationality law is the law governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of Northern Cyprus citizenship. Naturalized Northern Cyprus citizens are persons granted citizenship by the de facto Government of Northern Cyprus , which is recognized only by Turkey.

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Considering Cyprus as a major part of its strategy to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean, Ankara is closely following the ballot in the northern third of the island and has stepped up maneuvers to boost Mr. Tatar's campaign.

Ceremony with great fanfare to inaugurate an underwater aqueduct between North Cyprus and Turkey or the partial reopening of a former famous seaside resort, abandoned since its closure by the Turkish army after the partition of the island, aroused accusations of Turkish interference in the election and angered many Turkish-Cypriots, led by Akinci.

"The Turkish-Cypriots are not happy to be seen as dependent on another and to be constantly reprimanded and despised," said Umut Bozkurt, political scientist at the University of the Eastern Mediterranean, in Northern Cyprus.

- "Dignity" -

According to the researcher, Ankara's supposed interference turned the ballot into a referendum on their "dignity" for many Turkish-Cypriots.

Turkish Cypriots elect their leader, Ankara follows closely

 Turkish Cypriots elect their leader, Ankara follows closely © Supplied by Le Point The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized by the only Turkey , began voting on Sunday to elect its leader, a ballot which mainly opposes the outgoing "president" and critic of the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the candidate of Ankara.

Northern Cyprus (Turkish: Kuzey Kıbrıs), officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC; Turkish: Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti, KKTC), is a de facto state that comprises the northeastern portion of the island of Cyprus .

Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey, a country which facilitates many of its contacts with the international community. After it was occupied by Turkey, Northern Cyprus ' relations with the rest of the world were further complicated by a series of United Nations resolutions which declared its

"Peace, because we no longer want to be puppets in our country," said Ahmet, a Turkish-Cypriot, on Twitter, using the hashtag which has gone viral "Peace, because".

"The results of the first round show that a considerable part of the voters want to free themselves from the influence of Turkey and want reunification", according to Mrs Bozkurt.

But displaying an independent line vis-à-vis Ankara is not easy as the TRNC has been under the economic control of Turkey since its creation in 1983.

The economic crisis, amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic , did not fix anything and it is Ankara which financed the construction of a hospital of a hundred beds in TRNC to face it.

Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, but Turkish troops invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in reaction to a coup attempt to reunite the island with Greece.

When he came to power in 2015, Mr. Akinci had revived the hope of seeing the peace talks succeed by advocating a federal state, but the last official negotiations failed in 2017.

"Difficulties await him on this subject if he is elected, "anticipates Ms Bozkurt. "Ankara now seems to prefer a hard line which excludes a federation in Cyprus."

str-mdz / hj

Turkey extends operations of energy drill ship off Cyprus until mid-October .
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