Turkish Cypriots head to polls in snap parliamentary elections

Turkish Cypriots head to polls in snap parliamentary elections

NICOSIA
Turkish Cypriots head to polls in snap parliamentary elections

Turkish Cypriots on Jan. 7 voted in a snap parliamentary election overshadowed by last year's failure to reach a peace deal for the divided island in UN-backed talks.

More than 190,500 people are registered to vote in the Turkish Cyprus.

The vote comes ahead of presidential polls later this month in the internationally recognized Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus with peace efforts on hold until both sets of elections are over.

Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT and are to close at 1600 GMT.

The election in Turkish Cyprus comes six months after efforts to reunify the island collapsed at a UN-hosted peace summit in Switzerland over a number of disputes, including the withdrawal of Turkey's 45,000 troops.

Turkish Cyprus is currently governed by a coalition of the right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) and its junior partner the Democratic Party (DP).

Analysts say the DP of Serdar Denktaş -- son of late Turkish Cyprus founder and leader Rauf Denktaş - could fall under the five percent threshold due to intra-party disputes, Agence France-Presse reported.

The UBP and the pro-solution Republican Turkish Party (CTP) are the other major parties in the election, followed by the Peoples' Party (HP) of Kudret Özersay -- a former negotiator in peace talks with the Greek Cypriots.

The election, originally planned for July, were brought forward after tensions in the ruling coalition and the opposition pressed for snap polls.

Analysts say a coalition government is the most likely outcome because no one party is likely to win an absolute majority in the 50-seat parliament.

The Social Democracy Party (TDP) of Turkish Cypriot president Mustafa Akıncı -- regarded as strongly pro-solution -- and the newly established far-right Rebirth Party (YDP) founded by settlers of Turkish origin are also running in the election.

"Every election, like every new year and every new day is a new beginning. I hope and wish that this will be a good beginning for our community," Akıncı told reporters after casting his vote.

"Depending on the results, as the president, I will be doing whatever my responsibilities dictates me to do. So we will see what the results will be and we'll take our actions accordingly."

On January 28, Greek Cyprus is set to hold a presidential election in which conservative incumbent Nicos Anastasiades is the frontrunner.

Anastasiades has campaigned on a pro-peace ticket, vowing to try to revive talks with Akinci, despite the souring of their relationship after two years of tough and ultimately fruitless negotiations.

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