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Battle lines drawn in ‘presidential elections’

Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay

By Stefanos Evripidou

TURKISH CYPRIOT negotiator Kudret Ozersay has signalled that he could run in next April’s elections for the Turkish Cypriot leadership, potentially going up against his current boss, incumbent leader Dervis Eroglu.

According to Turkish Cypriot press on Friday, Ozersay said during a television interview that he was considering running as a candidate in the next ‘presidential elections’ in the north.

Referring to the possibility of being a candidate, Ozersay said this was not impossible, adding that his duty is to serve the Turkish Cypriot people from every post he will undertake.

Ozersay said he has no allegiance to any political party and yet has worked with every Turkish Cypriot leader, not for personal gain, but “to contribute for the benefit of this country”.

“If I consider that this contribution could be more by becoming president, then why would I not do it? This possibility is not improbable, I am thinking of it,” he said.

Other potential candidates for the seat, which is traditionally reserved for the person who will represent the Turkish Cypriots in negotiations on the Cyprus problem, include incumbent Eroglu, his predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat, and Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami, while some reports suggest Turkish Cypriot ‘house speaker’ Sibel Siber also has potential.

Most commentators argue that the main fight will be between two main candidates, each representing and mobilising the forces of the left and right against each other.

By this logic, if Talat runs as champion of the left, Nami will not, and vice-versa. If the left feels neither has what it takes to beat their opponent, whoever that may be, then perhaps Siber will step in to unite the moderates.

On the other side of the spectrum, Eroglu has proved a master manipulator of the two main parties of the right, National Unity Party (UBP) and Democratic Party (DP). But internal bickering could see the shine of his potential candidacy dimmed, leaving space for the great pretender, Ozersay, to fill the gap and unite the right- unless they both decide to take a shot.

A third way is also on the horizon, following the surprise victory of Mehmet Harmanci of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) in the northern Nicosia municipality elections last month.

Another former mayor from the same party, Mustafa Akinci, a prominent peace activist, has also said he will consider running for the Turkish Cypriot leadership next April.

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