Turkish Cypriots postpone election over coronavirus

Nicosia (AFP) –


Lawmakers in breakaway northern Cyprus voted Thursday to postpone a Turkish Cypriot leadership election scheduled for April 26 by six months because of the coronavirus.

The election will now be held on October 11, and dovish incumbent Mustafa Akinci will remain in office in a caretaker capacity until then.

Akinci is both president of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara, and leader of the island's minority community in on-off UN-backed reunification talks with Greek Cypriot leader and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup in Nicosia seeking to unite the island with Greece.

Turkish Cypriot authorities closed all points of entry to non-residents from Thursday in the latest in a raft of preventive measures against the coronavirus.

The Turkish Cypriot north has so far recorded 20 cases of COVID-19, while the Republic of Cyprus has confirmed 49, making an island-wide total of 69.