Northern Cyprus: Right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar elected president


Right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar has won the presidential election in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

Mr Tatar, who is pro-Turkey and wants the divided Mediterranean island to be two separate states, received nearly 52% of the vote in a surprise victory.

His opponent and incumbent leader, Mustafa Akinci, sought reunification with the Greek part of the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north after a military coup backed by Greece.

The island was effectively partitioned, with the northern third run by a Turkish Cypriot government and the southern two-thirds by the internationally-recognised government led by Greek Cypriots.

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) – which has a population of around 300,000 – is recognised as an independent state only by Turkey, while the rest of the world sees it as part of Cyprus.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who supported Mr Tatar during his election campaign, congratulated him on his victory.

There has been no comment yet from the Cypriot government in Nicosia, although opposition parties there have lamented the result.

Mr Tatar thanked the Turkish president in a victory speech.

“We deserve our sovereignty – we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbours in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom… because we deserve it.”

Responding to the result on Twitter, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would “continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people”.

Sunday was the second round of the presidential election, after Mr Tatar secured 32% of the vote in the first round on 11 October, while incumbent President Akinci won almost 30%.

Following the result, Mr Akinci’s re-election hopes were boosted after he gained the backing of Tufan Erhurman, who had come third in the first round of voting.

Throughout the campaign, Mr Akinci had accused Turkey of interfering in the election. He admitted defeat on Sunday night but said the contest “wasn’t normal”.

“These results mark the end of my 45-year political career,” Mr Akinci was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. “I wish good luck to our people.”

Mr Tatar’s victory in northern Cyprus follows increased tensions between his backer Turkey and Greece over energy claims in the eastern Mediterranean in recent months.


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