Nationalists win Turkish Cypriot elections

April 20, 2009 00:44


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Turkish Cypriot nationalists won a parliamentary election on Sunday, and their victory could stifle promising talks aimed at reuniting the ethnically divided island of Cyprus. With nearly 90 percent of votes counted, the right-wing National Unity Party, or UBP, had 44 percent of the vote, a 14 point advantage over the ruling leftist Republican Turkish Party, or CTP. About 160,000 people were eligible to vote in the election, and an estimated 81.3 percent did so, officials said. The vote will not directly affect Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who began reunification talks with Greek Cypriots in September. But the outcome of the election could limit Talat's ability to negotiate a settlement, which must be approved by a referendum. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The administration in the breakaway north is recognized only by Turkey. But Sunday's election for the 50-seat assembly was being closely watched on both sides of the island since it could expose divisions among Turkish Cypriots over reunification prospects.

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