Militant beats the left in a poll of the Turkish Cypriot leadership


Nicosia The Independent: – A hardliner who advocates even closer ties with Turkey and a tougher stance with his Greek Cypriot rivals in peace talks defeated the incumbent left-wing leader in a run-off for the Turkish Cypriot leadership on Sunday.

The Turkish-Cypriot BRT channel said that after 100% of the votes were counted, Ersin Tatar received 51.74% of the vote against Mustafa Akinci 48.26%.

The Tatars seem to have taken advantage of the high turnout in the run-off, as they were able to rally supporters from some 200,000 powerful voters who might not have voted in the first round.

Akinci admitted defeat to Tatars in a speech to his supporters at his campaign headquarters, and congratulated his opponent on his victory.

“We went through an election contest that was not normal … These results indicate the end of my 45-year political career. I wish good luck to our people,” Akinci said.

This is a new news update. The previous AP story follows below.

Nicosia, Cyprus (The Associated Press) – A hardliner who prefers even closer ties with Turkey is taking the lead by a narrow margin against the left-wing incumbent in the Turkish Cypriot leadership’s run-off round Sunday, according to unofficial results.

The Turkish-Cypriot BRT channel said that after 84% of the votes were counted, Ersin Tatar received 52.12% of the votes against 47.88% for Mustafa Akinci.

The Tatars seem to have taken advantage of the high turnout in the run-off, as they were able to rally supporters from some 200,000 powerful voters who might not have voted in the first round.

Akinci, 72, is the hero of the Turkish Cypriots who oppose Turkey’s total domination of their affairs. Tatar, 60, advocates the full alignment between Turkish Cypriot policies and those of Turkey, the region’s patron.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north that depends economically and militarily on Ankara. The island’s internationally recognized government is located in the Greek Cypriot south and is part of the 27 countries of the European Union.

The conflict between Turkish Cypriots who seek to retain a greater role in how they are governed and those who want to go in full swing with Turkey has been a prominent feature of past leadership races, but this competition appears more polarizing than ever.

Akinci claimed that Turkey engaged in an “unprecedented” intervention throughout the campaign in favor of the Tatars, and that he and his family had received threats to withdraw from the race.

“We know that things happened that shouldn’t have happened,” Akinci said after casting his vote, adding that he hoped the voters would look back in Sunday’s election “with pride in the democracy and will of the Turkish Cypriots.”

Tatars urged voters to come out and beat the record turnout in the first round.

“The important thing is to reverse our will and send a message to the world,” Tatar said after the vote.

The first test for the winner will be a meeting with the Greek Cypriots and the Cypriot “guarantors” – Greece, Turkey and Britain – which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to invite soon. The goal will be to see if there is enough common ground to restart dormant peace talks.

Almost five decades of easy UN efforts to achieve reunification on the basis of a federal framework have been unsuccessful.

Akinci believes that union is the only path towards a peace agreement. Tatars share the Turkish government’s view that federalism may not be the most viable option and alternatives such as the two-state deal should be pursued.

Tensions escalated this summer in waters off Greece and Cyprus on the maritime borders and energy exploration rights after Turkey redeployed a research ship near the Greek island of Kastelorizo. The move has cast doubt on fresh talks aimed at resolving the dispute.

Turkey insists that it has every legal right to search for hydrocarbons in the waters as Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights. The Greek and Cypriot governments accuse Turkey of violating international law. The dispute has raised fears of a military conflict between Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO but powerful regional rivals.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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