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Peace at stake in Cypriot leadership run-off as Turkey accused of threatening incumbent

TURKISH Cypriots went to the polls again today in a presidential election marred by allegations of interference from Ankara.

Incumbent Mustafa Akinci favours talks for the reunification of the island, the northern part of which has been occupied by Turkey since a 1974 invasion.

Turkish Cypriots voted for independence nine years later in a move only recognised by Ankara, which since then has maintained a strong military presence in Cyprus.

Mr Akinci’s Ankara-backed rival in the second-round poll, Ersin Tatar, wants to align with Turkey and pursue a two-state solution instead of federation.

Tensions have escalated between Greece and Turkey over the right to drill oil off the coast of northern Cyprus.

The EU sanctioned Ankara in July 2019 after it sent a drilling ship into a disputed area, reducing Turkey’s pre-accession financial assistance for 2020 by €145.8 million (£132.3m) and halting high-level bilateral talks.

Mr Akinci alleged that he was threatened by Ankara last week and claimed to have received messages saying that “not becoming a candidate would be better for [himself] and [his] family.”

The election result was due to emerge after the Morning Star went to print.

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