Monday, September 26, 2022
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Northern Cyprus heads to polls amid East Med tensions

Turkish Cypriots in the divided island’s north, a self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have started voting on Sunday to elect a new president.Nearly 200,000 voters will choose from among 11 candidates, including the independent incumbent Mustafa Akinci and Prime Minister Ersin Tatar from the conservative National Unity Party (UBP).

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after a Turkish military intervention in response to a Greek-inspired coup in the south.

The latest UN-mediated peace negotiations failed in 2017 and there has been no progress in talks since.

Akinci supports the unification of the island while Tatar, backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, advocates a two-state solution.

If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, a runoff is scheduled for October 18.

Last week, Tatar exposed cracks in his coalition government when he announced the partial opening of Varosha, a Turkish-controlled former resort in Famagusta, 46 years after it became a ghost town.

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Ozersay, who is also a presidential candidate, resigned in protest.

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