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North Cyprus heads to the polls in landmark vote

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North Cyprus heads to the polls in landmark vote

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Northern Cypriots vote today in a presidential poll widely expected to have implications far beyond the territory’s borders.

The election pits hardline right-wing Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu against current President Mehmet Ali Talat.

Barring a last minute upset, Eroglu, a staunch believer in the North’s independence from the rest of Cyprus, is set to sail home to victory. He has accused his rival of failing in talks with Greek Cypriots aimed at resolving the Mediterranean island’s long-standing territorial dispute.

Mehmet Ali Talat wants reunification with Greek Cypriots, whose government is recognised internationally. He says the barriers between the two communities are closer than ever to being sorted.

Divided since 1974, only Turkey recognises the breakaway north. However the vote’s outcome may not only throw a spanner in the works of the fragile peace process but also complicate Ankara’s ambitions to join the EU.