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Unficyp calls for protests to remain peaceful, crossings to stay closed another day (Update 2)

A new protest against the closing of the crossing points was held Monday morning at the Ledra Steet crossing as the government announced it would remain closed another day.

Protesters who gathered on the north side of the crossing were faced by police in anti-riot gear but no incidents were reported.

This was the third protest organised against President Nicos Anastasiades’ decision to close four of the seven crossing points to the north as a precautionary measure against the spreading of the new coronavirus.

On Monday the protesters on the north side of the Ledra crossing were chanting ‘Peace in Cyprus cannot be hindered’. Demonstrators holding red carnations were standing behind a line of UN personnel. They wanted to pass them to the police on the south side of the crossing.

They said they had invited Turkish Cypriot Leader Mustafa Akinci to join.

Unficyp earlier in the day called on protesters to refrain from any action along the buffer zone that might disturb public order.

In the face of new protests being organised, Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique said public safety was the peacekeeping force’s priority, according to CNA.

Although Unficyp advocates the right to peaceful demonstrations, unauthorised activities in the buffer zone were  strictly prohibited, he said.

“We call on all demonstrators to refrain from any actions that disrupt public order,” Siddique added.

He said Unficyp had strengthened its presence on the ground and was “coordinating its actions closely with both sides to maintain peace.”

The announcment came after the government said that  crossings at Ledra Street, Astromeritis, Lefka and Dherynia would remain closed for one more day pending the cabinet’s decision on Tuesday on how the issue will be handled.

According to an official announcement, the ministerial committee appointed by the cabinet to manage the crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus decided on Monday for the four crossings to remain closed until Tuesday.

The cabinet will convene on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

The cabinet’s decision some 10 days ago to suspend the operation of the four crossings as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus provoked reactions in both communities.

Police on Saturday used teargas against demonstrators protesting against the government decision after some of them tried to break through the police line and reach the barriers temporarily installed at the Ledra Street crossing.

Police said five officers were injured during the scuffles last Saturday.

Police chief Kypros Michaelides, condemned the incident and the attacks against the officers on duty by Turkish Cypriot protesters and said he had given orders for the incident to be investigated. Anyone found to have committed any offence will be prosecuted, he said.

Michealides said that the Cyprus police are charged with keeping law and order and “will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands and disturb the peace by assaulting and swearing at police officers on duty.”

 

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