Premier Tatar ousts incumbent president in Northern Cyprus vote

Turkish Cypriot presidential candidate Ersin Tatar casts his vote at a polling station during Turkish Cypriot presidential elections in northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. REUTERS/Harun Ucar

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the breakaway state of North Cyprus, won a presidential election runoff on Sunday with 51.74% of votes, said Narin Ferdi Sefik, head of the electoral board.

Tatar, 60, was facing Mustafa Akinci, the 72-year-old incumbent president, who received 48.26% after all votes were counted.

Tatar supports separate sovereign administrations on the island, while Akinci wants to work to reunite the island, which split after a Turkish invasion in 1974 in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Only Turkey recognises Northern Cyprus as an independent state. As well as having an impact on inter-island talks, the result of Northern Cyprus’ election may influence negotiations over contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean, which has Turkey at odds with Greece and Cyprus.

Earlier this month, Tatar, speaking alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said Northern Cyprus was reopening part of the beachfront of a resort abandoned for 46 years, a move that could hurt efforts to revive dispute settlement talks.

The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, called the move illegal.

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