Grieving resumes for late Cypriot president
Children of Denktaş, founding Turkish Cypriot president, pay their last respect. AA photoThousands attended an official ceremony yesterday for founding Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş, who died Jan. 13 aged 87 after a long illness.
Turkish Cypriots gathered early in the morning outside the hospital where the former leader died; Rauf Denktaş’s successor, Mehmet Ali Talat, and the current Turkish Cypriot leadership were among the crowd at the ceremony.
Rauf Denktaş’s wife, Aydın Denktaş; his son, Serdar Denktaş; Turkish Cypriot Parliamentary head Hasan Bozer and Turkish Ambassador to Nicosia Halil İbrahim Akça were among the crowd at the ceremony.
“Don’t worry, rest in peace. You’ve reached your children,” Aydın Denktaş said in reference to the couple’s two sons who died before her husband. “I will take care of the children, my dear husband of 67 years.”
The coffin, wrapped in Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags, was later transferred from the hospital in northern Nicosia to the presidential palace where it will lie in state.
Denktaş will be laid to rest today at Cumhuriyet Park. Turkey, the only country to recognize Turkish Cyprus as an independent state, is expected to send a large delegation headed by President Abdullah Gül for today’s funeral. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are among those expected to attend.
Gül invited former Turkish presidents Süleyman Demirel and Ahmet Necdet Sezer to attend the funeral together although the incumbent’s predecessors declined the offer.
Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is also expected to attend the funeral, as are former CHP leaders Deniz Baykal, Hikmet Çetin and Altan Öymen.
A book of condolences was opened in Nicosia and London for Denktaş.
Meanwhile, in lieu of flowers or wreaths, the Denktaş family asked for donations to several nongovernmental organizations, such as the Turkish Cyprus Education Foundation and the Foundation to Help Cancer Patients.
The former leader suffered a blood clot to the brain last May that left him partially paralyzed. In July, he received treatment at a military hospital in Ankara but his condition failed to improve.
Compiled from AFP and AA stories by the Daily News staff.