Turkish Cypriot leader says threatened by Ankara ahead of Sunday’s elections

Mustafa Akıncı, president of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) told local television channel TV 2020 on Friday that he had received threats from Turkish authorities to not run again in the enclave’s upcoming elections.

“There are certain offices that are in deep relations, loyal to the one who governs Turkey, as you know,” Akıncı said. “I was sent a message via my clerk that it would be good for my family and loved ones if I didn’t run in the elections.”

The Turkish embassy in Lefkosia issued a statement, saying Akıncı’s claim was “completely out of the realm of reality.”

“The Republic of Turkey is determined to protect the life and property of every single Cypriot Turk, including by ensuring safe elections,” the embassy statement said. “We have repeatedly stated the problems with using Turkey in election campaigns. The continuation of such a disturbing attitude against the Republic of Turkey is far removed from good faith.”

The Turkish government often finds itself at odds with incumbent president and candidate in the upcoming elections Akıncı, and favours rival candidate and Prime Minister Ersin Tatar in his stead.

TRNC, only recognized by Turkey in the international arena, is set to hold elections on Oct. 11 following the collapse of its government when the People’s Party (HP) withdrew from the governing coalition on Tuesday.

HP leader Yenal Senin pointed to Tatar as the reason the coalition failed, over the prime minister not notifying the party of plans to reopen the abandoned coastal town of Varosha.

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. The once popular resort town had been fenced off by the Turkish army ever since and a 1984 United Nations Security Council Resolution states that it can only be resettled by its original residents.

The disputed resort town reopened to the public on Thursday, amid growing tensions in the Mediterranean island with Greek Cypriots.