Five hopefuls in the race for Famagusta mayor said on Thursday they would fight for the return of Varosha, the fenced-off area of the town that the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ has pledged to resettle in violation of UN resolutions.
The five candidates, two of whom are backed by the three main political parties, submitted their bids in the morning at the district administration offices in Larnaca for the election on August 25.
Ruling Disy has backed Nicos Karoullas, a member of the Famagusta municipality council after failing to agree on a joint candidate with Akel and Diko, which picked Simos Ioannou.
Also running as independents are Andreas Lordos and Giorgos Stavris, plus far-right Elam’s Linos Papayiannis.
Around 31,500 Famagusta residents across the island have the right to vote at 44 polling stations in total. Nicosia will have seven, Famagusta four, Larnaca 13, Limassol 19 and Paphos one.
The town is choosing a mayor following the sudden death recently of Alexis Galanos. Galanos, who also served as president of the House of Representatives, was serving his third term as mayor after being re-elected in 2016.
Speaking after submitting his candidacy, Karoullas said he would continue the fight for a “Cyprus solution, reunification and the return to Varosha”.
Lordos, who also ran in the 2016 municipal elections for Famagusta and came in third, said he had joined the race for mayor to try and unite Famagustans and fight for the return of its citizens.
“The task ahead of us is difficult. If we succeed in this goal, the next target will be the United Nations, who are keenly ignorant of the overwhelming actions taken by the occupation forces,” he said, referring to the recent entry to the militarised zone by Turkish ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay and a delegation of experts to begin an inventory of the abandoned properties in Varosha.
Ioannou, in his comments also said he would fight for return. “We are at a very crucial stage in the Cyprus problem. Tomorrow [Friday] the talks between the President of the Republic and Mustafa Akinci begin. I hope one of the main issues and I believe it should be one of the main issues, is Varosha,” he said.
“What the Turks have been trying to do for the last 45 years has intensified. The latest actions by Ozersay are aimed at populating the city and trying to sow discord. We will fight to the end for the inhabitants to return to Famagusta,” he added.
Elam’s Papayiannis said his party was demanding the return of Varosha. “The challenges we face both from the Turks and from long-term occupation needs a different choice the other candidates have to offer. It is our duty to show both inside and outside [of Cyprus] that are not asking for crumbs of land [Varosha] but the return of all of Famagusta,” he said.