Presidential election in Northern Cyprus heads for second round

The presidential election in Northern Cyprus is set for a second-round vote next week after candidates failed to garner 50 percent of the votes, Birgün newspaper reported.

The two leading candiates, right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar and incumbent moderate Mustafa Akıncı, are set to face off in the second-round of the polls scheduled for Oct. 18, it said. 

Tatar won more than 32 percent of the votes, followed by Akıncı with around 29 per cent, according to preliminary estimates from the electoral commission. 

The polls took place amid heightened tensions on the divided island and in the wider region, and with precautions against the spread of the deadly coronavirus. 

Seventy-two-year-old Akıncı, who has vowed to push for reunification with Greek Cypriots under a federal “roof” if re-elected for a second five-year term, made headlines on Friday when he publicly accused Ankara of interfering in the polls.

Ankara has thrown its weight behind 60-year-old Tatar, the current prime minister, who last week re-opened the beachfront of Varosha, in a move that was backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and angered the Greek Cypriot administration.

Varosha’s primarily Greek Cypriot population fled during the 1974 Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus that followed an Athens-sponsored coup attempt by Greek officers to unite Cyprus with Greece.