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Eroglu-Akinci runoff nears

Runoff candidate Mustafa Akinci

By Angelos Anastasiou

TWO days before the runoff election for Turkish Cypriot leader between incumbent Dervis Eroglu and challenger Mustafa Akinci, press reports indicated that Akinci’s momentum had shaken Eroglu’s staff enough to resort to negative campaign tactics.

Daily Kathimerini reported that Wednesday saw a barrage of unconfirmed rumours targeting Akinci, starting with one that claimed Akinci and his supporters plan to remove the Turkish and so-called TRNC flags from the Pentadaktylos range, should they win Sunday’s election.
The rumour was flatly denied by Akinci’s campaign staff.

A second story surfaced soon after, only to be denied hours later. According to this one, Turkish Cypriot politician Izzet Izcan, who has often been accused of “promoting Greek Cypriot views”, was slated to join Akinci’s team of advisors on the Cyprus problem negotiations.

This one was rejected by Izcan himself.

Such baseless rumours, press reports indicated, suggest a troubled Eroglu has opted for a smear campaign in order to reverse Akinci’s lead in the polls.

Various groups and individuals among the Turkish Cypriot community continued to come out in support of candidates.

Yesterday, former so-called TRNC prime minister Irsen Kucuk said he wouldn’t be supporting Eroglu due to the “latest developments”.

A day earlier, Republican Turkish Party leader Ozkan Yiorgancioglu urged the party loyals to vote for Akinci.

And Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis yesterday reported that a group supporting first-round independent candidate Kudret Ozersay, who racked up a surprise 21.25 per cent in last Sunday’s election, have also decided to support Akinci.

But former TRNC minister Ersin Tatar said that Akinci’s first-round vote tally should not fool anyone, noting that the majority of Ozersay’s votes were Eroglu’s, and used Greek Cypriots’ partialness towards Akinci as a slight against him.

“The Greek Cypriots are very happy with Akinci,” he was reported as saying.

“Have people thought about why they are so happy with him?”

Akinci himself, dubbed the favourite in Sunday’s runoff, told Turkish press that he wishes to build fruitful relations with Turkey, based on trust and respect.

He added that, should he win the election, his plan does not include a clash with Ankara.

However, he did call for control of so-called police and the fire brigade to be handed off from the Turkish Armed Forces to Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Meanwhile, former Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades, who had worked closely with Akinci from 1977 to 1980 in connecting the divided city’s separate sewerage systems, fondly recounted his contact with the Turkish Cypriot politician in an interview he gave to daily Politis.

“As soon as I saw him I realised he was a man of the port, with a broader outlook – he had seen foreign people, he had a different air about him,” Demetriades recalled.

“And I thought – I can work with this man.”

Nicosia’s former mayor sang Akinci’s prayers for his honesty and work ethic.

“That’s why he was popular,” he said.

Demetriades said Akinci took a while to warm up to him, but in the end realised that his intentions were good.

“It took two years, but he realised I was honestly trying to work with him for our city,” he said.

“But as soon as his suspicion vanished, he was friendly and upfront – the Turks have this good trait. He became my associate, for the good of our city. We always talked about our city, and he still does.”

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