Northern Cyprus elects government in a climate of tension with Turkey

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The outgoing President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, casts his vote.

The inhabitants of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RTCN), only recognized by Turkey, have voted this Sunday to elect their leader, elections that mainly oppose the outgoing president, Mustafa Akinci – very critical of the Turkish head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdogan–, with the candidate supported by Ankara, the prime minister, Ersin Tatar. Both will contest the second round of the elections after being the most voted this Sunday, but without reaching the required 50% of the votes to win.

With the 80% of votes counted, Tatar obtained 32% of the ballots in this first round, while Akinci would be second, with 29%. The new appointment with the polls will be on October 18.

The elections have been held in a context of growing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, especially in relation to the exploitation of hydrocarbons, which confronts the Executives of Ankara and Athens, the main ally of the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority in two thirds of the southern part of the island and which is integrated into of the European Union.

The RTCN, where about 300,000 people live, covers the northern third of the island, occupied since 1974 by Turkey in reaction to a coup that sought to annex Cyprus to Greece. Turkey, whose coastline is about 80 km from that of Cyprus, considers the island to be a key element in your strategy to extend its maritime borders.

Erdogan’s hostility

Eleven candidates had run for the election, including Akinci, who was listed as favorite in polls. The president is a 72-year-old Social Democrat in favor of the reunification of the island and reduce ties with Ankara, which has earned him the hostility of the Turkish president.

“These elections are crucial to our destiny “, Akinci told reporters after they had voted. The leader declared himself concerned about the health of the Turkish Cypriots due to the pandemic, but also about the “health of politics” in the RTCN, where 400 cases of covid-19 and four deaths.

Pitfalls

Akinci has denounced “Turkey’s intervention” in the elections and the “use made by the Turkish officials [en la RTCN] of their schools as if they were campaign offices. “Turkey openly support Akinci’s main rival, the nationalist Tatar, 60-year-old, currently Prime Minister of the Government and on whom a large part of the executive powers fall

“The RTCN and its people form a state […] We deserve to live [regidos] for equal sovereignty, “Tatar declared in front of the electoral college, to the applause of some supporters, implying that he supports the island being definitely divided into two sovereign states.

For many years, negotiations to reunify the island have stumbled on the issue of withdrawal of about 30,000 Turkish soldiers deployed in the northern third.

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