Akıncı elected as new president of Turkish Cypriots
Former mayor and veteran politician Mustafa Akıncı cast his ballot with his family on April 26. Married with three daughters, he has two grandchildren.A leftist moderate promising to press for a peace deal in ethnically-split Cyprus swept to victory in the presidential election run-off in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on April 26.
Mustafa Akıncı, standing as an independent, won 60.3 percent of the votes, according to figures provided by the election commission. His rival was incumbent president Derviş Eroğlu, a conservative elected five years ago. Eroğlu got 39.6 percent of the votes.
Nearly 177,000 voters were eligible to participate in the second round of elections.
Eroğlu, supported by the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party-National Forces, had led the first round with 28.15 percent of the votes while Akıncı received 26.94 percent.
The Republican Turkish Party-United Forces candidate Sibel Siber received 22.53 percent and independent Kudret Özersay took 21.25 percent.
The Republican Turkish Party-United Forces party and Prime Minister Özkan Yorgancıoğlu announced support for Akıncı's candidacy after the first round.
Akıncı, 67, is a former mayor of the Turkish Cypriot half of the island’s divided capital and has been one of his community’s most outspoken advocates of reconciliation with the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government.
The Turkish military intervention in Cyprus in 1974, following a coup that brought a hardline Greek administration to power on the island, resulted in the division of Cyprus and led to decades of scarce contact.
Born in the southern city of Limassol in 1947, Akıncı was first elected to parliament in 1975, a year after Turkey's military intervention. He became mayor of the northern section of Nicosia in 1976, a post he held until 1990. He worked on numerous initiatives with his Greek Cypriot counterparts while in office.
Returning to the TRNC’s parliament in 1993, Akıncı held several portfolios, including the posts of deputy prime minister and minister of tourism.
In 2003, he was instrumental in the foundation of Peace and Democracy Movement, and went on to lead the Communal Democracy Party, which openly advocates reunification of Cyprus.
The United Nations has put forward multiple peace plans but they have all failed, notably a plan by then UN chief Kofi Annan that was approved by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots in simultaneous votes in 2004.
UN-sponsored peace talks are set to resume after the April 26 election following a Greek Cypriot decision to end a six-month boycott.
Both Turkey and the United States voiced hope last week that 2015 could finally be the year that Cyprus is reunited after the long decades of division.
'There is possibility for all sides to win'
Akıncı’s track record of dialogue with Greek Cypriot officials means he is seen as one of the TRNC’s best hopes in revived peace talks, stalled since last October.
The Greek Cypriot government had been protested by Turkey over exploration of possible offshore oil and gas reserves amid austerity moves in Greek Cyprus demanded by the deeply indebted island’s international creditors.
Speaking to Reuters on April 25, Akıncı said natural gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean represented a "new dynamic" that could benefit countries in the region, and that confidence-building measures were needed between the two sides.
"There is a possibility for all sides to win," he said.